The effect of topical minoxidil treatment on follicular sulfotransferase enzymatic activity

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Jul-Aug;32(4):937-940.


Minoxidil is the only US FDA-approved topical drug for the treatment of female and male pattern hair loss. Previously, it was demonstrated that topical minoxidil is metabolized to its active metabolite, minoxidil sulfate, by sulfotransferase enzymes located in the outer root sheath of hair follicles. The expression of sulfotransferase in the scalp varies greatly between individuals, and this difference in expression explains the varied response to minoxidil treatment. Previously, we have demonstrated the clinical utility of detecting sulfotransferase in plucked hair follicles to predict minoxidil response in pattern hair loss patients. Typically, exogenous exposure to substrates affects the expression of the enzymatic system responsible for their metabolism. For example, Phase I metabolizing enzymes, such as the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes, are known to be up-regulated in the presence of xenobiotic substrates. However, it is not known if Phase II metabolizing enzymes, such as the sulfotransferase family of enzymes, are similarly affected by the presence of substrates. In this study, we recruited 120 subjects and analyzed their sulfotransferase enzymatic activity before and after treatment with topical minoxidil. Adjusting the results for biologic (within subject) variability, we discovered that the sulfotransferase enzymatic system expression is stable over the course of minoxidil treatment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the stability of sulfotransferase, a Phase II metabolizing enzyme, over the course of minoxidil treatment.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Alopecia / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / drug effects*
  • Hair Follicle / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minoxidil / metabolism*
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use*
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism*


  • Minoxidil
  • Sulfotransferases