Effect of mycophenolic acid on proliferation of dermal papilla cells and induction of anagen hair follicles

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Mycophenolic acid (MPA), the active metabolite of mycophenolate mofetil, has anti-inflammatory effects, and is widely used as an immunomodulatory agent. However, the beneficial effect of MPA in hair-loss disorders is not fully understood.


To investigate the direct effect of MPA on dermal papilla cells (DPCs), and to examine the hair growth-stimulating effects of MPA topically applied to mouse skin.


Cultured DPCs were treated with various concentrations of MPA and analysed by MTT assay. Expressions of hair growth-related genes, including Wnt/β-catenin pathway-related genes and cellular apoptosis-regulating genes, such as Bcl-2, Bax and caspase-9, were examined using reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and western blotting. The Wnt/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway was analysed by western blotting. The effect of topically applied MPA on anagen hair follicle induction after microneedle (MN) treatment with or without minoxidil (MXD) was evaluated by histopathological examination and RT-PCR.


MPA showed a promoting effect on DPC proliferation, which was associated with increased Axin2 transcription levels. In addition, phospho-ERK protein was detected in the MPA-treated DPCs. An increased Bcl-2/Bax transcript ratio contributed to cellular proliferation, and this was maintained in the MPA-treated environment. Topically applied MPA promoted anagen hair follicle induction in mice. The effect of MPA on hair follicles was compatible with that of MXD, and this effect was accelerated by MN treatment.


MPA promotes proliferation of DPCs and induction of anagen hair follicles in mice. This finding raises the possibility that MPA could be used as a treatment option for hair-loss disorders.

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