Alopecia areata is a syndrome that affects many people worldwide. Individuals with this condition experience patches of hair loss as a result of their immune system damaging their own hair follicles. This type of severe hair loss is incredibly detrimental, irrespective of gender. It can diminish someone’s self-esteem and have an adverse impact on their general quality of life.

A recent study performed by Salk experts in Nature Immunology that was reported on June 23, 2022, reveals an aspect of curing this hair loss condition in human beings. Scientists have discovered a link between hair growth and the T-cells of the immune system. These T-cells interact with the skin cells through a hormone. That hormone works as a messenger to signal and promote the formation of new hair follicles. This ultimately results in hair regrowth.

The NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis’s associate professor, Ye Zheng, also the corresponding author of this research, stated that the regulatory T-cells have previously been investigated for how they reduce overactive immune reactivity in autoimmune conditions. In this research, it has been discovered that the hormone signal moves in the upstream direction while the growth factor moves in the downstream direction. This breakthrough can truly boost hair regenerative processes independently of immune response suppression.

The study started with the aim of understanding the significance of regulatory T-cells and glucocorticoids in autoimmune disorders. Researchers discovered that none of the circumstances were impacted by the interaction between glucocorticoids and regulatory T-cells. Then the focus was shifted to places like skin tissue, where regulatory T-cells exhibit exceptionally high levels of glucocorticoid receptors. After two weeks, hair growth was noticed in the healthy mice and no hair growth in the mice without glucocorticoid receptors.

Scientists observed that glucocorticoids direct regulatory T-cells to stimulate the development of hair follicles. Further investigation verified that this mechanism was totally independent of the ability of regulatory T-cells to cause any immunological balance. The findings imply that regulatory T-cell and hair follicle stem cell interaction is the key to hair regeneration.

Immune cells target skin tissue in alopecia areata, which causes hair loss. To stop the immunological response in the skin from damaging the hair follicles, the recommended treatment is to use glucocorticoids. Applying glucocorticoids has many benefits, but the most prominent one is activating the stem cells responsible for hair follicles.