Plucking hairs may help treat baldness, study finds

hair-pluckingA recent study shows plucked follicles cause the immune system to respond with increased regrowth.

Bald men will certainly be pleased that scientist have found a way of making hair regrow. U.S. researchers have shown that when 200 hairs are plucked, up to six times as many can grow back.

For the technique to work, all hair must be plucked from one small patch. Theory suggests that plucking from a small area signals the immune system that hair is being forcibly removed thus making the extra hair regrow, according to Daily Mail.


• Quorum sensing underlies collective regenerative behavior in a hair follicle population

• Sensing occurs via injury → CCL2 → macrophage → TNF-α → hair regeneration pathway

• Coupling molecular diffusion and cell mobility achieves a long signaling length scale

• Stem cell social behavior can be exploited to enhance the reliability of regeneration

Coordinated organ behavior is crucial for an effective response to environmental stimuli.

By studying regeneration of hair follicles in response to patterned hair plucking, we demonstrate that organ-level quorum sensing allows coordinated responses to skin injury.

Plucking hair at different densities leads to a regeneration of up to five times more neighboring, unplucked resting hairs, indicating activation of a collective decision-making process.

Through data modeling, the range of the quorum signal was estimated to be on the order of 1 mm, greater than expected for a diffusible molecular cue.

Molecular and genetic analysis uncovered a two-step mechanism, where release of CCL2 from injured hairs leads to recruitment of TNF-α-secreting macrophages, which accumulate and signal to both plucked and unplucked follicles.

By coupling immune response with regeneration, this mechanism allows skin to respond predictively to distress, disregarding mild injury, while meeting stronger injury with full-scale cooperative activation of stem cells.

While the concept may seem painful and unconventional, the University of Southern California researchers say it will lead to new methods and potential new treatment for baldness.

Although the work is at an early stage and it has been tested on mice only, the testing on humans is still to follow.