Hair growth-promotion effects of different alternating current parameter settings are mediated by the activation of Wnt/β-catenin and MAPK pathway

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Electrical stimulation is being used in variable skin therapeutic conditions. There have been clinical studies demonstrating the positive effect of electrical stimuli on hair regrowth. However, the underlying exact mechanism and optimal parameter settings are not clarified yet. To investigate the effects of different parameter settings of electrical stimuli on hair growth by examining changes in human dermal papilla cells (hDPCs) in vitro and by observing molecular changes in animal tissue. In vitro, cultured hDPCs were electrically stimulated with different parameter settings at alternating current (AC). Cell proliferation was measured by MTT assay. The Ki67 expression was measured by immunofluorescence. Hair growth-related gene expressions were measured by RT-PCR. In animal model, different parameter settings of AC were applied to the shaved dorsal skin of rabbit for 8 weeks. Expression of hair-related genes in the skin of rabbit was examined by RT-PCR. At low voltage power (3.5 V) and low frequency (1 or 2 MHz) with AC, in vitro proliferation of hDPCs was successfully induced. A significant increase in Wnt/β-catenin, Ki67, p-ERK and p-AKT expressions was observed under the aforementioned settings. In animal model, hair regrowth was observed in the entire stimulated areas under individual conditions. Expression of hair-related genes in the skin significantly increased on the 6th week of treatment. There are optimal conditions for electrical stimulated hair growth, and they might be different in the cells, animals and human tissues. Electrical stimuli induce mechanisms such as the activation of Wnt/β-catenin and MAPK pathway in hair follicles.

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