Mitochondria, Hair Loss and Hair Growth:

What are mitochondria and why do they matter?

If one thinks back to their earliest high school biology days, they'll likely remember learning about mitochondria. These are tiny 3 micrometer organelles that lie inside cells.  Mitochondria are essential components and play a key role in helping cell product energy. When one thinks of metabolism of muscle cells, liver cells, brain cells, one is really talking about mitochondria.  These are frequently referred to as the 'powerhouses' of the cell. 


A new study points to key role for mitochondria in hair loss

Most living (nucleated) cells have mitochondria, including many cells that make up the hair follicles. A new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham nicely demonstrated just how important mitochondria are. When a mutation leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is induced in mice, the mouse develops visible hair loss in a matter of weeks. When the mitochondrial function is restored by turning off the gene responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction, the mouse regains thick fur, indistinguishable from a healthy mouse of the same age.

The researchers are interested to use this model to more thoroughly study mitochondrial function in a variety of states, including aging. Some treatments for hair loss are known to affect mitochondrial function - including low level laser therapy (LLLT).

Further research will elucidate if an how we can treat hair loss by affecting the function of these tiny organelles known as mitochondria.



Bhupendra Singh, Trenton R. Schoeb, Prachi Bajpai, Andrzej Slominski, Keshav K. Singh. Reversing wrinkled skin and hair loss in mice by restoring mitochondrial functionCell Death & Disease, 2018; 9 (7) DOI: 10.1038/s41419-018-0765-9

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

Share This