Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue

Eplasty. 2016 Jan 25;16:e8. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Objective: In this study, we evaluated the effect of scalp massage on hair in Japanese males and the effect of stretching forces on human dermal papilla cells in vitro.

Methods: Nine healthy men received 4 minutes of standardized scalp massage per day for 24 weeks using a scalp massage device. Total hair number, hair thickness, and hair growth rate were evaluated. The mechanical effect of scalp massage on subcutaneous tissue was analyzed using a finite element method. To evaluate the effect of mechanical forces, human dermal papilla cells were cultured using a 72-hour stretching cycle. Gene expression change was analyzed using DNA microarray analyses. In addition, expression of hair cycle-related genes including IL6, NOGGIN, BMP4, and SMAD4 were evaluated using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: Standardized scalp massage resulted in increased hair thickness 24 weeks after initiation of massage (0.085 ± 0.003 mm vs 0.092 ± 0.001 mm). Finite element method showed that scalp massage caused z-direction displacement and von Mises stress on subcutaneous tissue. In vitro, DNA microarray showed gene expression change significantly compared with nonstretching human dermal papilla cells. A total of 2655 genes were upregulated and 2823 genes were downregulated. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction demonstrated increased expression of hair cycle-related genes such as NOGGIN, BMP4, SMAD4, and IL6ST and decrease in hair loss-related genes such as IL6.

Conclusions: Stretching forces result in changes in gene expression in human dermal papilla cells. Standardized scalp massage is a way to transmit mechanical stress to human dermal papilla cells in subcutaneous tissue. Hair thickness was shown to increase with standardized scalp massage.

Keywords: dermal papilla cells; hair; mechanobiology; scalp massage; stretching force.