Ciprofloxacin and Stem Cells: Are Some Antibiotics Good for Hair?

Are Some Antibiotics Good for Hair?


Stem cells are cells which have the potential to give rise to many cell types. An interesting study has drawn attention to a potential role for the antibiotic ciprofloxacin in maintaining stem cells during cell culture and preventing their transformation into cells with other characteristics. 
Authors from Thailand studied a human dermal papilla cell line as well as primary dermal papilla cells as model systems and showed evidence that ciprofloxacin treatment could prevent the loss of “stemness” during the time spent in cell culture.

Without addition of ciprofloxacin to cell culture models, the researchers showed that clonogenicity and stem cell markers of dermal papilla cells gradually decreased in the culture over time. However, treatment of the cells with nontoxic concentrations of ciprofloxacin was shown to maintain both stem cell morphology and clonogenicity, as well as all stem cells markers. This ability of ciprofloxacin to maintain stemness was found to occur through a mechanism that involved that involved an ATP-dependent tyrosine kinase/glycogen synthase kinase3β dependent mechanism which in turn upregulated β-catenin.

Further studies are needed to understand if this is a unique feature of ciprofloxacin and if the finding has relevance to other cell lines. If found to be a consistent and unique feature, this study could have tremendous relevance for model systems to “clone” hairs.


Kiratipaiboon et al Ciprofloxacin Improves the Stemness of Human Dermal Papilla Cells. Stem Cells International Volume 2016

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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