What is Alopecia?
Hair loss (alopecia) is a quite common condition observed in both men and women. Pattern hair loss also known as androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss that is thought to affect up to 80% of Caucasian men and up to 40% of Caucasian women by age of 70, and it can have quite devastating consequences on one’s well-being, including lower self-esteem, depression and lower quality of life.
Androgenic alopecia (AGA) means the lack of body hair, especially follicle of hair, due to various reasons such as endocrine abnormalities, genetic factors, stress, sex and age. It is defined as baldness when hair follicle cells are completely destroyed, and it is not likely that the hair grows back, and it can be distinguished clearly from a normal person by withdrawal of the frontal hairline.
Hair loss can appear in many different ways, depending on what’s causing it. It can come on suddenly or gradually and affect just your scalp or your whole body. Sign and symptoms may include:
- Gradual thinning on top of head. This is the most common type of hair loss.In men, hair loss often begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead. Women typically have a broadening of the part in their hair.
- Circular or patchy bald spots. Some people lose hair in circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard or eyebrows. Skin may become itchy or painful before the hair falls out.
- Sudden loosening of hair. A physical or emotional shock can cause hair to loosen. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or even after gente tugging. It is normally temporary.
- Full body hair loss. Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over the body. It usually grows back.
- Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp. This is a sign of ringworm. It may be accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling and at times oozing.
What Causes Alopecia?
People typically lose 50 to 100 hairs a day. This usually isn’t noticeable because new hair is growing in at the same time. Hair loss occurs when new hair doesn’t replace the hair that has fallen out.
Is typically related to one or more of the following factors:
- Family history (heredity). The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition that happens with aging. This is called androgenic alopecia, male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness.
- Hormonal changes and medical conditions. Many conditions can cause permanent or temporary hair loss, including hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems. Medical conditions include alopecia areata, which is immune mediated and causes patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm, and a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania.
- Medications and supplements. It can be a side effect of certain drugs, such as those for cancer, depression, gout and hypertension.
- Radiation therapy of the head.
- Stressful events. Many people can experience general thinning of hair several months after a physical or emotional shock, which is temporary.
Current Treatment Options
In case of AGA, there is no special solution with present medical technology and although finasteride and minoxidil have been approved by FDA, it merely delays the progress of AGA and a fundamental treatment has not yet been reported.
In general, AGA treatments can be divided into surgical and non-surgical methods. A representative surgical treatment is to transplant hair from the occipital to the hair loss area which does not make the hair thin or removed.
In case of non-surgical treatments, there is no proven method objectively and in order to treat AGA, it is known to take a 5-red reductase inhibitor that suppresses production of DHT hormone and if taking the medicine is stopped, it is estimated that alopecia occurred again by reproduction of DHT hormone.
AGA is known as a disease in which one’s immune cells generate an immune inflammatory response to hair roots and become to lose hair in the end. Although various treatments have been known to date, it is not known there is any effective method to inhibit the progression of AGA by stimulating the scalp itself or to regulate the cycle of hair which can restore AGA
Alternative Treatment Options
Hair tissue engineering and stem cell therapy are new approaches to treating hair loss (HL). Methods using exogenous cell sources or progenitor cells (PCs) are being tested in cell treatment clinical trials.
The use of stem cells has been reported to improve hair regrowth in several therapeutic strategies, including reversing the pathological mechanisms that contribute to hair loss, regeneration of hair follicles, or creating hair using the tissue-engineering approach.
Stem cell-based therapies have recently received lots of attention as potential novel treatments that focus on reactivating hair follicle stem cells and in this way enhance hair follicle growth, regeneration and development. Stem cell-based therapy approaches include stem cell transplant, stem cell-derived conditioned medium and stem cell-derived exosomes.
Recent research studies
Different studies have studied the safety and efficacy of using stem cell therapy for alopecia. Some studies have used adipose-tissue derived stem cells. One study with a group of 22 patients with alopecia received injections every 3-5 weeks for a total of 6 sessions and after treatment a statistically significant increase in hair numbers was demonstrated in all patients.
Exosomes are extracellular vesicles of the smallest size that act as cell-to-cell transporters and messengers by carrying signaling molecules including transcription factors, cytokines, and RNA. They have been demonstrated as important modulators of paracrine signaling and could be of major importance for hair follicle regeneration. Some studies are evaluating the use of exosomes for hair regrowth therapy with good results.
These innovative therapies are showing good results in multiple studies and could one day become the main treatment for hair loss.
Stem Cell Therapy at Zignagenix
In our clinic we offer treatment for this condition by doing a combined therapy. We utilize Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) combined with exosomes that are infused intravenously and combine it with localized injections in the affected area of alopecia.
Several injections are performed in the areas of hair loss with both MSCs and Platelet-rich plasma to increase the quantity of growth factors and antiinflammatory substances (cytokines) that can modulate the immune response in the area and help with regeneration of hair follicles.
Egger A, Tomic-Canic M, Tosti A. Advances in Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Hair Loss. CellR4 Repair Replace Regen Reprogram. 2020;8:e2894.
Kim, S.J., Kim, M.J., Lee, Y.J. et al. Innovative method of alopecia treatment by autologous adipose-derived SVF. Stem Cell Res Ther 12, 486 (2021).
Gentile P, Garcovich S. Advances in Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy in Androgenic Alopecia and Hair Loss: Wnt pathway, Growth-Factor, and Mesenchymal Stem Cell Signaling Impact Analysis on Cell Growth and Hair Follicle Development. Cells. 2019;8(5):466. Published 2019 May 16. doi:10.3390/cells8050466