In silico prediction of prostaglandin D2 synthase inhibitors from herbal constituents for the treatment of hair loss

J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Dec 4:175:470-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.10.005. Epub 2015 Oct 9.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Many herbal topical formulations have been marketed worldwide to prevent hair loss or promote hair growth. Certain in vivo studies have shown promising results among them; however, the effectiveness of their bioactive constituents remains unknown.

Aim of the study: Recently, prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) inhibition has been discovered as a pharmacological mechanism for treating androgenic alopecia (AGA). This present study was aimed to identify prostaglandin D2 synthase (PTGDS) inhibitors in traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) for treating AGA.

Materials and methods: In this study, 389 constituents of 12 selected herbs were docked into 6 different crystal structures of PTGDS. The accuracy of the docking methods was successfully validated with experimental data from the ZINC In Man (Zim) database using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) studies. Seven essential drug properties were predicted for topical formulation: skin permeability, sensitisation, irritation, corrosion, mutagenicity, tumorigenicity and reproductive effects.

Results: Many constituents of the twelve herbs were found to have more advanced binding energies than the experimentally proved PTGDS inhibitors, but many of them were indicative of at least one type of skin adverse reactions, and exhibited poor skin permeability.

Conclusions: Overall, ricinoleic acid, acteoside, amentoflavone, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and hinokiflavone were predicted to be PTGDS inhibitors with good pharmacokinetic properties and minimal adverse skin reactions. These compounds have the highest potential for further in vitro and in vivo investigation with the aim of developing safe and high-efficacy hair loss treatment.

Keywords: Androgenic alopecia; Docking; Hair loss; Prostaglandin D2 synthase; Traditional Chinese medicines.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors* / chemistry
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors* / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors* / toxicity
  • Dermatologic Agents* / chemistry
  • Dermatologic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Dermatologic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Dermatologic Agents* / toxicity
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / chemistry
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / therapeutic use
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Lipocalins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • ROC Curve
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin Absorption


  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Lipocalins
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases
  • prostaglandin R2 D-isomerase