Novel enzymatic assay predicts minoxidil response in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia

Dermatol Ther. 2014 May-Jun;27(3):171-3. doi: 10.1111/dth.12111. Epub 2013 Nov 27.


Topical minoxidil is the most common drug used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in men and women. Although topical minoxidil exhibits a good safety profile, the efficacy in the overall population remains relatively low at 30-40%. To observe significant improvement in hair growth, minoxidil is typically used daily for a period of at least 3-4 months. Due to the significant time commitment and low response rate, a biomarker for predicting patient response prior to therapy would be advantageous. Minoxidil is converted in the scalp to its active form, minoxidil sulfate, by the sulfotransferase enzyme SULT1A1. We hypothesized that SULT1A1 enzyme activity in the hair follicle correlates with minoxidil response for the treatment of AGA. Our preliminary retrospective study of a SULT1A1 activity assay demonstrates 95% sensitivity and 73% specificity in predicting minoxidil treatment response for AGA. A larger prospective study is now under way to further validate this novel assay.

Keywords: androgenetic alopecia; minoxidil; sulfotransferase.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / diagnosis
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Alopecia / enzymology
  • Arylsulfotransferase / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biotransformation
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / drug effects*
  • Hair Follicle / enzymology
  • Hair Follicle / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / analogs & derivatives
  • Minoxidil / metabolism
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Selection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prodrugs / metabolism
  • Prodrugs / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Prodrugs
  • minoxidil sulfate ester
  • Minoxidil
  • Arylsulfotransferase
  • SULT1A1 protein, human