Sulforaphane promotes murine hair growth by accelerating the degradation of dihydrotestosterone

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016 Mar 25;472(1):250-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2016.02.099. Epub 2016 Feb 26.


Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes the regression of human hair follicles in the parietal scalp, leading to androgenic alopecia (AGA). Sulforaphane (SFN) increases the expression of DHT degrading enzymes, such as 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (3α-HSDs), and, therefore, SFN treatment may improve AGA. To determine the effects of SFN on hair growth, we administered SFN (10 mg/kg BW, IP) or vehicle (DMSO) to ob/ob mice for six weeks and examined hair regeneration and the plasma levels of testosterone and DHT. We also tested the effects of SFN on the expression of two forms of 3α-HSD, aldo-keto reductase 1c21 and dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR family) member 9, both in vitro and in vivo. SNF significantly enhanced hair regeneration in ob/ob mice. The mice treated with SFN showed lower plasma levels of testosterone and DHT than those treated with vehicle. SFN increased the mRNA and protein levels of the two forms of 3α-HSD in the liver of the mice and in cultured murine hepatocyte Hepa1c1c7 cells. These results suggest that SFN treatment increases the amount of 3α-HSDs in the liver, accelerates the degradation of blood DHT, and subsequently blocks the suppression of hair growth by DHT.

Keywords: 3α-HSD; Androgenetic alopecia; Dihydrotestosterone; Metabolic syndrome; Sulforaphane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Alopecia / drug therapy
  • Alopecia / metabolism
  • Alopecia / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Dihydrotestosterone / blood
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Hair / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Kinetics
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sulfoxides
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Isothiocyanates
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sulfoxides
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • sulforaphane