The effect of topical minoxidil on hair follicular cycles of rats

J Dermatol. 1990 May;17(5):276-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1346-8138.1990.tb01641.x.


To explore an easily accessible and reproducible model for examining the effect of minoxidil on hair growth, we studied the effect of minoxidil on the natural hair cycles of rats from birth to 80 days of age. During the 1st and 2nd postnatal cycles, the hair follicles grew very rapidly and the size of anagen follicles were markedly enlarged. In the 3rd cycle (50 days to approximately 100 days of age), duration of the telogen phase lasted approximately 20 days. Topical minoxidil, 1%, 3%, or 5% solution, applied on the backs of the rats from 23 days (weaning) to 80 days, induced a remarkable shortening of the telogen phase in the 3rd cycle. Although the dose-dependent response was very minimal, rats treated with 3% or 5% minoxidil showed similar effects in the 4th cycle. Minoxidil, however, did not induce prolongation of the anagen phase, but increased the rate of DNA synthesis in the anagen bulb during the 2nd and 3rd cycles. These results suggest that minoxidil specifically stimulates the secondary germ of the telogen follicles, resulting in rapid progression to anagen follicles.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Hair / cytology
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / administration & dosage
  • Minoxidil / pharmacology*
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Minoxidil