Doppler laser imaging predicts response to topical minoxidil in the treatment of female pattern hair loss

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. Jan-Mar 2016;30(1):131-4.

Abstract

Topical minoxidil is the only drug approved by the US FDA for the treatment of female pattern hair loss. Unfortunately, following 16 weeks of daily application, less than 40% of patients regrow hair. Several studies have demonstrated that sulfotransferase enzyme activity in plucked hair follicles predicts topical minoxidil response in female pattern hair loss patients. However, due to patients’ discomfort with the procedure, and the time required to perform the enzymatic assay it would be ideal to develop a rapid, non-invasive test for sulfotransferase enzyme activity. Minoxidil is a pro-drug converted to its active form, minoxidil sulfate, by sulfotransferase enzymes in the outer root sheath of hair. Minoxidil sulfate is the active form required for both the promotion of hair regrowth and the vasodilatory effects of minoxidil. We thus hypothesized that laser Doppler velocimetry measurement of scalp blood perfusion subsequent to the application of topical minoxidil would correlate with sulfotransferase enzyme activity in plucked hair follicles. In this study, plucked hair follicles from female pattern hair loss patients were analyzed for sulfotransferase enzyme activity. Additionally, laser Doppler velocimetry was used to measure the change in scalp perfusion at 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes, after the application of minoxidil. In agreement with our hypothesis, we discovered a correlation (r=1.0) between the change in scalp perfusion within 60 minutes after topical minoxidil application and sulfotransferase enzyme activity in plucked hairs. To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the feasibility of using laser Doppler imaging as a rapid, non-invasive diagnostic test to predict topical minoxidil response in the treatment of female pattern hair loss.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry*
  • Minoxidil / administration & dosage*
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use*

Substances

  • Minoxidil