Role of thymosin beta 4 in hair growth

Mol Genet Genomics. 2016 Aug;291(4):1639-46. doi: 10.1007/s00438-016-1207-y. Epub 2016 Apr 29.


Although thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4) is known to play a role in hair growth, its mechanism of action is unclear. We examined the levels of key genes in a Tβ4 epidermal-specific over-expressing mouse model and Tβ4 global knockout mouse model to explore how Tβ4 affects hair growth. By depilation and histological examination of the skin, we confirmed the effect of Tβ4 on hair growth, the number of hair shafts and hair follicle (HF) structure. The mRNA and protein expression of several genes involved in hair growth were detected by real-time PCR and western blotting, respectively. Changes in the expression of β-catenin and Lef-1, the two key molecules in the Wnt signaling pathway, were similar to the changes observed in Tβ4 expression. We also found that compared to the control mice, the mRNA and protein expression of MMP-2 and VEGF were increased in the Tβ4 over-expressing mice, while the level of E-cadherin (E-cad) remained the same. Further, in the Tβ4 global knockout mice, the mRNA and protein levels of MMP-2 and VEGF decreased dramatically and the level of E-cad was stable. Based on the above results, we believe that Tβ4 may regulate the levels of VEGF and MMP-2 via the Wnt/β-catenin/Lef-1 signaling pathway to influence the growth of blood vessels around HFs and to activate cell migration. Tβ4 may have potential for the treatment of hair growth problems in adults, and its effects should be further confirmed in future studies.

Keywords: Hair follicle; Hair re-growth; Thymosin beta4; Wnt.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Hair / cytology
  • Hair / growth & development*
  • Hair / metabolism*
  • Hair Follicle / blood supply
  • Hair Follicle / cytology*
  • Hair Follicle / metabolism
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1 / genetics
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Thymosin / genetics*
  • Thymosin / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Cadherins
  • Cdh1 protein, mouse
  • Lef1 protein, mouse
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • Tmsb4x protein, mouse
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • vascular endothelial growth factor A, mouse
  • thymosin beta(4)
  • Thymosin
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Mmp2 protein, mouse