A New Era in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia: Focus on the "Prostaglandin Pathway"

The "Prostaglandin" Pathway

Recently, we've been hearing a lot about a group of hair growth drugs that affect "prostaglandins".  Several recent blogs of mine have discussed the role of prostaglandin F2a analogues in stimulating eyelash growth (click here for article).  A few months ago a major buzz was created in the hair world when Dr. Cotsarelis at the University of Pennsylvania showed that blocking the prostaglandin D2 pathway might be relevant to the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (click here for article).

New Study Highlights Role of Prostaglandin Analogues

Latanoprost is a prostaglandin F2alpha drug that is often used in treating glaucoma (an eye disease characterized by elevated eye pressures). Recently the drug has been shown to be useful in stimulating eyelash growth. 

In yet another study, researchers from Germany examined the use of the drug latanoprost 0.1% in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia (male balding). 16 men participated in the study.  All men had early staged androgenetic alopecia  Men applied one drop (50 microliters) of latanoprost solution to one small area of the scalp daily and one drop of the placebo drug (mock drug) daily for 24 weeks. 


What were the results?

Overall about 50% of men benefitted from the drug.  Patients who did end up benefitting from the drug showed evidence of improved growth by 16 weeks. The drug was well tolerated with the most common adverse effect being scalp redness. Interestingly, the patients who developed scalp redness also experienced hair growth.  How exactly these two are related remains to be clarified.



These results are exciting and highlights the importance of this prostaglandin pathway.  We will certainly be hearing a whole lot more about the pathway in the years ahead. Its important to note that all participants in the study were men, so we don't know if the results are generalizable to women.  Furthermore, all men in the study had early stage androgenetic alopecia so we dont know if the drug will have benefit for men with more advanced stages of balding.



Blume- Peytavi et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study to assess the efficacy of a 24 week topical treatment by latanoprost 0.1 % on hair growth and pigmentation in healthy volunteers with androgenetic alopecia.  Journal od the Amaerican Academy of Dermatology 2012; 66:794-800.


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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