People throughout all cultures care greatly about keeping their hair healthy and strong, and the array of hair care products is continuously expanding. Whilst wash and care hair products might be enough for maintaining hair fiber health, more specialist treatments are needed for preventing hair loss. In this regard, nutritional supplementation is often recommended as an adjunct treatment strategy. Even though it is known that, for example, systemic vitamin- or iron-deficiencies correlate with hair health and growth, it remains unclear whether and how these deficiencies are implemented within the human hair follicles (HFs) of individuals suffering from hair loss disorders.

In our latest study, recently published in Nutrients, sponsored by Bayer Vital GmbH, Leverkusen, Germany, we identified and quantified metabolites and micronutrients within HFs isolated from affected and unaffected scalp regions of female-pattern-hair-loss (FPHL) patients. Affected and unaffected scalp areas possess both terminal HFs, which produce healthy, thick hair, and intermediate HFs, which produce shorter and finer hair. It is assumed that, in hair loss disorders, healthy terminal HFs gradually turn into intermediate HFs.

In this study, we found that intermediate HFs from both affected and unaffected scalp regions of FPHL patients, are characterized by a nutrient and metabolite deficiency. Interestingly, the missing micronutrients and metabolites were either important in processes responsible for energy generation, or were essential amino acids and vitamins, all of which are involved in regulating cell growth.

Intrigued by these findings, we cultured terminal and intermediate HFs and analyzed their capability of producing and secreting metabolites (metabolic activity). We found that intermediate HFs of both affected and unaffected scalp regions were characterized by a lower metabolic activity, as they produced fewer metabolites than terminal HFs.

Since HFs obtain their nutrients from the blood stream, we were interested whether the blood vessels around intermediate HFs would differ from those around terminal HFs. Although there were no differences between the number and size of blood vessels from intermediate and terminal HFs in affected scalp regions, there were less blood vessels present around terminal HFs from affected scalp regions than around terminal HFs from unaffected scalp regions. These findings confirm that the terminal HFs in affected scalp regions are more prone to miniaturize than those in unaffected scalp regions.

Whether supplementation with nutraceuticals can really affect hair growth is dependent on the ability of the HFs to take them up from the blood stream. As a proof-of–principle, we supplemented the medium of intermediate HFs with nutrients typically found in hair growth supplements and saw that the HFs were able to absorb them. Therefore, our findings suggest that nutraceutical supplementation as adjunct therapy has the capacity to provide a benefit to patients suffering from FPHL.

Keywords: Hair Follicle, FPHL, Nutraceutical Supplementation, Metabolism, Hair Loss

Read the full story here: Intermediate Hair Follicles from Patients with Female Pattern Hair Loss Are Associated with Nutrient Insufficiency and a Quiescent Metabolic Phenotype – PubMed (nih.gov) and more information on the study here: Hereditary hair loss – how Priorin® capsules help