UCLA Scientists Identify New Way to Activate Stem Cells to Make Hair Grow; Increasing Lactate Dehydrogenase Activity Is Key

UCLA researchers have discovered a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to make hair grow. The research, led by scientists Dr. Heather Christofk and Dr. William Lowry, may lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia, which is hair loss associated with such factors as hormonal imbalance, stress, aging or chemotherapy treatment. The research was published online on August 14, 2017 in Nature Cell Biology. The article is titled “Lactate Dehydrogenase Activity Drives Hair Follicle Stem Cell Activation.” Hair follicle stem cells are long-lived cells in the hair follicle; they are present in the skin and produce hair throughout a person's lifetime. They are "quiescent," meaning they are normally inactive, but they quickly activate during a new hair cycle, which is when new hair growth occurs. The quiescence of hair follicle stem cells is regulated by many factors. In certain cases, they fail to activate, which is what causes hair loss. In this study, Dr. Christofk and Dr. Lowry, of Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, found that hair follicle stem cell metabolism is different from that of other cells of the skin. Cellular metabolism involves the breakdown of the nutrients needed for cells to divide, make energy, and respond to their environment. The process of metabolism uses enzymes that alter these nutrients to produce "metabolites."
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