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Prostaglandin D2 and Its Role in Hair Growth

Prostaglandin-D2-PGD2-and-its-relation-to-hair-loss Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) is a compound produced by mast cells (Type 2 T-helpers, eosinophils, and basophils), which are responsible for the production of histamine and heparin which are known for their key role in allergy and anaphylaxis.

Only recently, scientists have discovered another function of this compound besides causing vasodilatation.  In 2012, a group of researchers linked higher levels of PGD2 with hair loss (Garza, Luis A., et al. (2012-03-21).  “Prostaglandin D2 Inhibits Hair Growth and Is Elevated in Bald Scalp of Men with Androgenetic Alopecia”).  These researchers discovered mice having higher levels of PGD2 had inhibited hair growth, and if PGD2 was applied topically, this also inhibited hair growth.

Additionally, a group of researchers published a paper stating that they found the concentration of PGD2 was larger in balding scalp tissues than in scalp tissues that were not balding.  This was due to the increased levels of prostaglandin D2 synthase.  This paper suggested that PGD2 targeted a receptor called GPR44 which causes hair loss.  Thus, this is the receptor on which to focus when trying to treat androgenic alopecia for both genders.

There are medications on the market that inhibit the effect of PGD2.  However, those medications were created to treat asthma.  Clinical trials have already started to discover if blocking GPR44 receptors will help in treating androgenic alopecia.

In 2014-2015, Scientists may develop a new drug to combat hair loss

new-cause-of-baldnessIn 2012, Dr. George Cotsarelis and his team of dermatologists published a paper describing the link between PGD2 and hair loss.  They stated they are in talks with a number of pharmaceutical companies to develop, in 2 years, a completely new kind of medication to prevent hair loss in.

Two years have now passed and everyone is anxious to know when the new drugs might be on the market.  They have yet to issue any official statement.

Are there natural foods that inhibit PGD2?

Inhibiting PGD2 through food consumption is possible.  In a study done in 2008, (Papaliodis D, Boucher W, Kempuraj D, Theoharides TC (2008). “The flavonoid luteolin inhibits niacin-induced flush”) it was shown that a substance called quercetin can reduce prostaglandin D2 production.

Quercetin is a flavonoid (a plant pigment derived from flavone) that is found in a number of fruits, leaves, vegetables, and grains.  It is also used as an ingredient in beverages, supplements and foods.

What foods should I eat to increase the intake of quercetin?

The greatest amount of quercetin is found in capers, which come from Flinders Rose, known for its edible flower buds.  Capers are often used in seasoning and can also be pickled. Raw capers contain 234mg/100g of quercetin, while pickled canned cappers have 173mg/100g.

Other products which contain large quantities of quercetin include:

  • Lovage – 170 mg/100g
  • quercetin-chartRadish leaves –  70 mg/100g
  • Carob fiber – 58 mg/100g
  • Dill –  55 mg/100g
  • Cilantro –  53 mg/100g
  • Hungarian wax pepper – 51 mg/100g
  • Red onion – 32 mg/100g
  • Radicchio – 31.5 mg/100g
  • Watercress – 30 mg/100g
  • Buckwheat – 23 mg/100g
  • Cranberries – 15 mg/100g
  • Black plums – 12 mg/100g
  • Sweet potato – 10 mg/100g
  • Blueberries – 8 mg/100g

What other effects will quercetin have on my body?

Even through quercetin is not approved by the FDA as a treatment for any health issues, quercetin has many beneficial effects on the human body.  The following are some of those beneficial effects:

  • Antiviral  –  A study done by Pisonero-Vaquero S (Mar 2014) showed that quercetin, compared to other flavonoids, has the greatest inhibitory effect on Hepatitis C Virus.  It Also, in a study conducted by Yu YB, Miyashiro H, Nakamura N, Hattori M, Park JC (July 2007) quercetin was shown to inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.
  •  AsthmaQuercetin has shown its effectiveness as a bronchodilator by reducing the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals within the body.  By inhibiting several initial processes of inflammation, Quercetin has also demonstrated  substantial anti-inflammatory activity in a study by Park HJ, Lee CM, Jung ID, Lee JS, Jeong YI, Chang JH, Chun SH, Kim MJ, Choi IW, Ahn SC, Shin YK, Yeom SR, Park YM (March 2009). “Quercetin regulates Th1/Th2 balance in a murine model of asthma”.
  •  EczemaQuercetin has been proven to significantly reduce levels of IgE in rodent models, which is a key factor that contributes to the development of eczema.
  •  Inflammation Aside from inhibiting PGD2 and reducing hair loss, quercetin has been reported to reduce symptoms of pollinosis in a study done by Balabolkin II, Gordeeva GF, Fuseva ED, Dzhunelov AB, Kalugina OL, Khamidova MM (1992).
  •  Metabolic syndromeIn rat studies, quercetin has been proven to increase energy expenditure.  The increase in exercise tolerance has been linked to an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis.  In a study done by Edwards RL, Lyon T, Litwin SE, Rabovsky A, Symons JD, Jalili T (November 2007), quercetin was also linked to the reduction of blood pressure.

Discovery of the role PGD2 plays in promoting hair loss may help scientists find a completely new line of drugs which will be able to combat this problem.  In the meantime, people may be persuaded to increase their daily intake of quercetin.  This might not only slow down hair loss, but also provide the person with a number of other health benefits.