0242 GMT April 22, 2019
The study, published in Nature Cell Biology, findings could lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia, UPI wrote
Hair follicle stem cells are quiescent, meaning they are inactive except during a new hair cycle when they activate to grow hair.
The quiescence is regulated by several factors and failure to activate leads to hair loss.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers found that hair follicle stem cell metabolism differs from other cells of the skin in that they consume glucose from the bloodstream and process the glucose to produce a metabolite called pyruvate.
The cells then either sent pyruvate to their mitochondria or convert it to lactate.
Healther Christofk, an associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, said, "Our observations about hair follicle stem cell metabolism prompted us to examine whether genetically diminishing the entry of pyruvate into the mitochondria would force hair follicle stem cells to make more lactate, and if that would activate the cells and grow hair more quickly."
Researchers blocked the production of lactate genetically in mice and found that this prevented hair follicle stem cell activation and then increased lactate production genetically in the mice, which accelerated hair follicle stem cell activation.
William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, said, "Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells.
"Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect."
Researchers identified two drugs that influenced hair follicle stem cells in mice, RCGD423 and UK5099. RCGD423 activates a cellular signaling pathway known as JAK-Stat, which transmits information from outside the cell to the nucleus.