Background and objectives Inflammasomes that activate caspase-1 govern the innate immune inflammatory response. Whether hair loss associated with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) involves caspase-1 activation is not known. Methods Immunohistochemical staining for caspase-1 was performed on scalp tissue sections, and protein lysates were analyzed from individuals with AGA (no treatment), and individuals with AGA taking finasteride with apparent hair growth, individuals with AGA taking finasteride without noted hair growth, and normal controls. In vitro studies of human keratinocytes were conducted to establish effects of finasteride, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone on caspase-1 levels using immunoblot analysis. Results Caspase-1 is expressed in normal human adult epidermal keratinocytes. Caspase-1 expression is greater in men with AGA. In contrast, in men taking finasteride, caspase-1 levels were lower and were similar to those in normal controls. In vitro studies showed that keratinocytes treated with finasteride in combination with testosterone or DHT resulted in a significant decrease in caspase-1 expression. Conclusion In vivo and in vitro finasteride treatment resulted in lower caspase-1 expression, supporting the idea that androgens influence innate immunity involved in the hair cycle in AGA. These findings may provide a basis for development of novel treatments for inflammatory skin and hair diseases.
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