Minoxidil directly promotes hair growth via the stimulation of dermal papilla (DP) and epithelial cells. Alternatively, there is little evidence for indirect promotion of hair growth via stimulation of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). We investigated whether minoxidil stimulates ASCs and if increased growth factor secretion by ASCs facilitates minoxidil-induced hair growth. Telogen-to-anagen induction was examined in mice. Cultured DP cells and vibrissae hair follicle organ cultures were used to further examine the underlying mechanisms. Subcutaneous injection of minoxidil-treated ASCs accelerated telogen-to-anagen transition in mice, and increased hair weight at day 14 post-injection. Minoxidil did not alter ASC proliferation, but increased migration and tube formation. Minoxidil also increased the secretion of growth factors from ASCs, including chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 (CXCL1), platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (PD-ECGF), and platelet-derived growth factor-C (PDGF-C). Minoxidil increased extracellular signal–regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation, and concomitant upregulation of PD-ECGF
mRNA levels were attenuated by an ERK inhibitor. Subcutaneous injection of CXCL1, PD-ECGF, or PDGF-C enhanced anagen induction in mice, and both CXCL1 and PDGF-C increased hair length in ex vivo organ culture. Treatment with CXCL1, PD-ECGF, or PDGF-C also increased the proliferation index in DP cells. Finally, topical application of CXCL1, PD-ECGF, or PDGF-C with 2% minoxidil enhanced anagen induction when compared to minoxidil alone. Minoxidil stimulates ASC motility and increases paracrine growth factor signaling. Minoxidil-stimulated secretion of growth factors by ASCs may enhance hair growth by promoting DP proliferation. Therefore, minoxidil can be used as an ASC preconditioning agent for hair regeneration.
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