Dopamine is a novel, direct inducer of catagen in human scalp hair follicles in vitro

Authors

  • E.A. Langan,

    1. Dermatology Research Centre, Salford Royal Hospital, The University of Manchester, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, U.K.
    2. Department of Dermatology, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany
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  • E. Lisztes,

    1. DE-MTA ‘Lendulet’ Cellular Physiology Research Group, Department of Physiology, University of Debrecen, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
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  • T. Bíró,

    1. DE-MTA ‘Lendulet’ Cellular Physiology Research Group, Department of Physiology, University of Debrecen, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
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  • W. Funk,

    1. Klinikf Dr Kozlowski, Munich, Germany
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  • J.E. Kloepper,

    1. Department of Dermatology, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany
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  • C.E.M. Griffiths,

    1. Dermatology Research Centre, Salford Royal Hospital, The University of Manchester, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, U.K.
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  • R. Paus

    1. Dermatology Research Centre, Salford Royal Hospital, The University of Manchester, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, U.K.
    2. Department of Dermatology, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany
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  • Funding sources
    E.A.L. is supported by a Medical Research Council (U.K.) Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

  • Conflicts of interest
    A patent has been filed that relates to this manuscript.

Ralf Paus.
E-mail: ralf.paus@uksh.de

Summary

Background  Although there are clinical reports of hair loss associated with levodopa and dopamine agonists, it is unclear whether dopamine exerts any direct effects on the human hair follicle (HF).

Objectives  Given the widespread use of dopamine agonists and antagonists in clinical medicine, we sought to determine whether dopamine exerts direct effects on human HF growth and/or pigmentation in vitro, and whether human HFs express dopamine receptors (DRs).

Methods  Microdissected human scalp HFs from women were treated in serum-free organ culture for 7 days with dopamine (10–1000 nmol L−1), and the effects on hair shaft production, HF cycling (i.e. anagen–catagen transition), hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and apoptosis, and HF pigmentation were measured by quantitative (immuno-) histomorphometry.

Results  Dopamine had no consistent effect on hair shaft production, but did promote HF regression (catagen). It was also associated with significantly reduced proliferation of HF matrix keratinocytes (P < 0·01) and reduced intrafollicular melanin production. Dopamine receptor transcripts were identified in HFs and skin.

Conclusions  These data provide evidence that dopamine is an inhibitor of human hair growth, via the promotion of catagen induction, at least in vitro. This may offer a rational explanation for the induction of telogen effluvium in some women treated with dopamine agonists such as bromocriptine. Moreover, dopaminergic agonists deserve further exploration as novel inhibitors of unwanted human hair growth (hirsutism, hypertrichosis).

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