Hair growth induction by substance P

R. Paus, T. Heinzelmann, K. D. Schultz, J. Furkert, K. Fechner, B. M. Czarnetzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In vitro, some neuropeptides, including the tachykinin, substance P (SP), act as growth factors. The cyclic growth of the richly innervated hair follicle offers a model for probing such functions in a complex, developmentally regulated tissue interaction system under physiologic conditions. Dissecting the role of neuropeptides in this system may also reveal as yet obscure neural mechanisms of hair growth control. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The neuropeptide-releasing neurotoxin, capsaicin was injected intradermally, or SP slow-release formulations were implanted subcutaneously in the back skin of C57BL/6 mice with all follicles in the resting stage of the hair cycle (telogen) in order to see whether this induced hair growth (anagen). In addition, the endogenous SP skin concentration and the activity of the main SP-degrading enzyme, neutral endopeptidase, were determined during the induced murine hair cycle by high performance liquid chromatography-controlled radioimmunoassay (SP) or by fluorometry (neutral endopeptidase). RESULTS: Both capsaicin and SP induced significant hair growth (anagen) in the back skin of telogen mice. This was associated with substantial mast cell degranulation. The endogenous SP skin concentration showed significant, hair cycle-dependent fluctuations during the induced murine hair cycle, which were largely independent of the activity of neutral endopeptidase. CONCLUSIONS: SP may play a role in the neural control of hair growth. Whereas this pilot study does not address the underlying mechanisms of action, it demonstrates that SP has potential as a hair growth-stimulatory agent in vivo, and serves as a basis for exploring the role of tachykinins in epithelial-mesenchymal-neuroectodermal interaction systems like the hair follicle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • C57BL/6
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neutral endopeptidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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