Is hair loss giving you headaches? A study issues in the journal Cell reveals a rather strange, maybe a bit painful, method to cure your baldness: pluck out even the ones you still have standing.
According to the researchers conducting the experiments, the mice which had their hairs yanked in specific concentration and patterns benefited from significant fur regeneration. Besides the fact that plucked hairs grew back, new hairs appeared in close proximity.
Chief study author, Cheng-Ming Chuong, an esteemed stem cell researcher at USC, explained how this could lead to new strategies in reversing alopecia, a common form of hair loss.
However, you’d better read some more before you pluck all your hair out. During their experiments, researchers discovered that, in order for regrowth to occur, the area that needed to be cleared of hairs should not be bigger than the diameter of a pencil eraser.
By experimenting with different arrangements, shapes and spacing of the plucked regions, researchers reached the conclusion that correct distribution of 200 plucked hairs could trigger a massive regeneration of more than 1,200 hairs.
After their discovery, Chuong and his team tried to find out what causes this unexpected hair growth, and agreed that it might be the action of “quorum sensing,” the phenomenon in which cells follow chemical pathways to communicate; therefore, they are aware of the “damage” (the plucking of the hairs), and so they alert others and send requests for help.
Quorum sensing principle might be more extensive than just in the hair plucking case, many more application yet to be found. Regeneration of organs and tissue might also respond to collective cellular behaviors due to pathological or physiological stimuli.
The findings of the studies were made possible by the help of molecular and genetic analysis, which basically shows what happened when mouse hairs were plucked. Firstly, the follicles start producing inflammatory proteins, in order to alert the immune system about a wound.
The immune system then reacts by delivering macrophages (white blood cells that can trigger proliferation, among other natural responses) to the inflamed area. In our case, the role of the macrophages was to generate signaling molecules, which will prompt, in the specified conditions, both plucked and unplucked follicles to grow hair.
According to the experiments, the measure of the regenerative response could be connected to the robustness of signaling behaviors. It mattered if the hairs were plucked in a diffuse pattern or in a dense concentration; the latter proved efficient in triggering solid regeneration.
Image Source: Huffington Post