Intermediate Hair Follicles from Patients with Female Pattern Hair Loss Are Associated with Nutrient Insufficiency and a Quiescent Metabolic Phenotype

Nutrients. 2022 Aug 16;14(16):3357. doi: 10.3390/nu14163357.


Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a non-scarring alopecia resulting from the progressive conversion of the terminal (t) scalp hair follicles (HFs) into intermediate/miniaturized (i/m) HFs. Although data supporting nutrient deficiency in FPHL HFs are lacking, therapeutic strategies are often associated with nutritional supplementation. Here, we show by metabolic analysis that selected nutrients important for hair growth such as essential amino acids and vitamins are indeed decreased in affected iHFs compared to tHFs in FPHL scalp skin, confirming nutrient insufficiency. iHFs also displayed a more quiescent metabolic phenotype, as indicated by altered metabolite abundance in freshly collected HFs and release/consumption during organ culture of products/substrates of TCA cycle, aerobic glycolysis, and glutaminolysis. Yet, as assessed by exogenous nutrient supplementation ex vivo, nutrient uptake mechanisms are not impaired in affected FPHL iHFs. Moreover, blood vessel density is not diminished in iHFs versus tHFs, despite differences in tHFs from different FPHL scalp locations or versus healthy scalp or changes in the expression of angiogenesis-associated growth factors. Thus, our data reveal that affected iHFs in FPHL display a relative nutrient insufficiency and dormant metabolism, but are still capable of absorbing nutrients, supporting the potential of nutritional supplementation as an adjunct therapy for FPHL.

Keywords: female pattern hair loss; hair follicle; metabolism; nutrient supplementation.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle*
  • Humans
  • Nutrients
  • Phenotype
  • Scalp