The Potential of Fibroblast Growth Factors to Stimulate Hair Growth In Vitro

(1) Green Level High School, Cary, NC 27519, USA, (2) Enloe High School, Raleigh, NC 27610, USA, (3) North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
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There is a great need for studying mechanisms of hair follicle cycles and designing small molecular drugs, biologics, formulation, and surgical treatment for androgenic alopecia (AGA, a common form of hair recession). While minoxidil has served as a solution in the past, it is a vasodilator and can react heavily with alcohol. Furthermore, minoxidil must be used at night, as it requires 6 hours for the product to settle and perform its function. Therefore, alternative approaches are needed to treat AGA. Numerous clinical trials are studying the use of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) for tissue regeneration applications. Additionally, FGFs have been proven to stimulate stem cell growth and tissue regeneration. In the present study, we tested the effects of four FGFs, namely FGF1 (aFGF), FGF2 (bFGF), FGF10 (KGF-2), and FGF21, as compared to the gold standard, minoxidil, on isolated primary mouse hair follicle dermal papilla (DP) cells. We also used plain cell culture media (without growth factors or serum) as a negative control. Cell proliferation and viability were measured using both a biochemical assay and fluorescent microscope examinations. Our results indicate that several FGFs can promote DP cell proliferation. Interestingly, our results show that minoxidil promotes DP cell proliferation in the absence of a vascular system. In addition, DP cells cultured in FGFs exhibited a more organized cytoskeleton as compared to the ones cultured with minoxidil, suggesting the potential advantages of FGFs in general cellular health. In that regard, we hypothesize that FGFs can stimulate hair growth and treat AGA.

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