New molecules for future research in androgenetic alopecia

New pathways for androgenetic alopecia: A look at IGF-1

We still don't fully understand the cause of genetic hair loss (aka androgenetic alopecia) and how best to treat it. Of all the cytokines & growth that have been postulated to play a role in hair follicle, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is known to be regulated by androgens. It's not clear if IGF-1 is altered in any way in the course of androgenetic alopecia.


Is IGF-1 altered in the balding scalp?

Prior to 2014, it wasn't well understood if IGF-1 levels are altered in the scalp's of patients who are experiencing balding.  In a recent 2014study, the  expressions of IGF-1 and its binding proteins from dermal papilla (DP) cells were compared in balding and non balding scalps. 

Interestingly,  cells from balding scalp follicles were found to secrete significantly less IGF-1, as well as the binding proteins, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-4 (P < 0.05).


Conclusion and Comments

While this study does not prove that IGF-1 plays a direct role in androgenetic alopecia, it certainly is interesting. Further study is needed. It will be interesting to research whether PGD2 levels (which are known to be elevated in androgenetic alopecia) somehow impair IGF-1. 



Panchaprateep R1, Asawanonda P. Exp Dermatol. 2014 Mar;23(3):216-8. Insulin-like growth factor-1: roles in androgenetic alopecia.




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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