Topical minoxidil counteracts stress-induced hair growth inhibition in mice

Petra Clara Arck, Bori Handjiski, Eva M.J. Peters, Evelin Hagen, Burghard F. Klapp, Ralf Paus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Stress has long been suspected as a possible cause of hair loss in various species, even though convincing experimental evidence has not been available. Recently, we have shown in a murine model that sonic stress alters hair growth and cycling in vivo, and have postulated the existence of a 'brain-hair follicle axis' (BHA). In order to study whether a clinically available and widely used topically active hair growth stimulator mitigates stress-triggered hair growth inhibition in this stress model, we have applied a 5% minoxidil solution. Female CBA/J mice were depilated and randomized in to two groups: control (n = 20) and sonic stress (n = 20). These groups were further divided and either treated daily with 5% minoxidil solution or vehicle alone. The stress group was exposed to sonic stress for 24 h starting 14 days after anagen induction by depilation. All mice were sacrificed 16 days after the depilation and assessed by quantitative histomorphometry. Sonic stress significantly increased the number of hair follicles with apoptotic cells and inhibited intrafollicular keratinocyte proliferation. In addition, the number of clusters of perifollicular MHC class II+ cells and degranulated perifollicular mast cells was significantly enhanced in the stressed mice. In accordance with previous findings, all stressed mice showed an advanced hair cycle progression towards catagen. All of these stress-induced hair growth inhibitory changes along the BHA were down-regulated by topical minoxidil application. This encourages one to explore clinically whether topical minoxidil is a safe and effective pharmacologic tool for the management of stress-associated telogen effluvium in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-590
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Hair growth inhibition
  • MHC II + cells
  • Mast cells
  • Mice
  • Sonic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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