Enhancement of Human Hair Growth Using Ecklonia cava Polyphenols

Ann Dermatol. 2016 Feb;28(1):15-21. doi: 10.5021/ad.2016.28.1.15. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Background: Ecklonia cava is a brown alga that contains various compounds, including carotenoids, fucoidans, and phlorotannins. E. cava polyphenols (ECPs) are known to increase fibroblast survival. The human dermal papilla cell (hDPC) has the properties of mesenchymal-origin fibroblasts.

Objective: This study aims to investigate the effect of ECPs on human hair growth promotion in vitro and ex vivo.

Methods: MTT assays were conducted to examine the effect of ECPs on hDPC proliferation. Hair growth was measured using ex-vivo hair follicle cultures. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to evaluate the mRNA expression of various growth factors in ECP-treated hDPCs.

Results: Treatment with 10 µg/ml purified polyphenols from E. cava (PPE) enhanced the proliferation of hDPCs 30.3% more than in the negative control (p<0.001). Furthermore, 0.1 µg/ml PPE extended the human hair shaft 30.8% longer than the negative control over 9 days (p<0.05). Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) mRNA expression increased 3.2-fold in hDPCs following treatment with 6 µg/ml PPE (p<0.05). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA expression was also increased 2.0-fold by 3 µg/ml PPE (p<0.05). Treatment with 10 µg/ml PPE reduced oxidative stress in hDPCs (p<0.05).

Conclusion: These results suggest that PPE could enhance human hair growth. This can be explained by hDPC proliferation coupled with increases in growth factors such as IGF-1 and VEGF. Reducing oxidative stress is also thought to help increase hDPCs. These favorable results suggest that PPE is a promising therapeutic candidate for hair loss.

Keywords: Ecklonia cava; Hair; Insulin-like growth factor-I; Oxidative stress; Polyphenols; Vascular endothelial growth factor A.