A super-active form of Vitamin D boosts the capacity of stem cells to enhance and maintain their ability to induce hair growth, a team of Japanese researchers concluded in a study that could someday lead to a cell therapy for human baldness.

In research results published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, researchers from the University of Tokyo (UT) School of Medicine, Osaka University, and the Japan Science and Technology Agency found that treating dermal papilla cells (DPCs) with VD3 significantly enhanced the growth of new hair over that of the control group.

“We also observed a better rate of maturation of the follicles. In other words, the hair grew thicker and lasted longer,” Noriyuki Aoi, M.D., of UT’s School of Medicine said in a statement.

Dr. Aoi and UT’s Kotaro Yoshimura, M.D., led the team in building upon previous studies that have demonstrated how DPCs can stimulate epithelial stem cells to become hair by increasing their transforming growth factor TGF-ß2 and alkali-phosphatase activity. The team collected DPCs from volunteers who had undergone facelifts, incubated the DPCs with VD3 and then grafted them onto hairless skin samples taken from rats.

“The results suggest that (VD3) may be useful in expanding human DPCs with good quality, and help establish a DPC transplantation therapy for growing hair,” Dr. Yoshimura said in the statement. 

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