Topical liposome targeting of dyes, melanins, genes, and proteins selectively to hair follicles

J Drug Target. 1998;5(2):67-74. doi: 10.3109/10611869808995860.


For therapeutic and cosmetic modification of hair, we have developed a hair-follicle-selective macromolecule and small molecule targeting system with topical application of phosphatidylcholine-based liposomes. Liposome-entrapped melanins, proteins, genes, and small-molecules have been selectively targeted to the hair follicle and hair shafts of mice. Liposomal delivery of these molecules is time dependent. Negligible amounts of delivered molecules enter the dermis, epidermis, or bloodstream thereby demonstrating selective follicle delivery. Naked molecules are trapped in the stratum corneum and are unable to enter the follicle. The potential of the hair-follicle liposome delivery system for therapeutic use for hair disease as well as for cosmesis has been demonstrated in 3-dimensional histoculture of hair-growing skin and mouse in vivo models. Topical liposome selective delivery to hair follicles has demonstrated the ability to color hair with melanin, the delivery of the active lac-Z gene to hair matrix cells and delivery of proteins as well. Liposome-targeting of molecules to hair follicles has also been achieved in human scalp in histoculture. Liposomes thus have high potential in selective hair follicle targeting of large and small molecules, including genes, opening the field of gene therapy and other molecular therapy of the hair process to restore hair growth, physiologically restore or alter hair pigment, and to prevent or accelerate hair loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Culture Techniques
  • DNA / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Hair Dyes*
  • Hair*
  • Humans
  • Lac Operon
  • Liposomes
  • Melanins / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Proteins / administration & dosage*


  • Drug Carriers
  • Hair Dyes
  • Liposomes
  • Melanins
  • Proteins
  • DNA