PGD2 and hair loss

The Link Between Prostaglandin D2 and Hair Loss

Also known as PGD2, Prostaglandin D2 is an enzyme we recognize as the ‘hair loss’ enzyme. Those of us who have androgenic/pattern baldness have higher amounts of PGD2 than most people. While PGD2 has a significant effect on many areas of our bodies, we’re more concerned with how it affects your scalp and why it increases hair loss.

To reduce hair loss, understanding PGD2, how it adapts your scalp’s follicles to cause hair loss, and how to inhibit it is crucial. We’ll run through all of this, so you can decide whether to tackle it as part of your hair loss regime.

What is PGD2?

As we’ve already stated, PGD2 is an enzyme. It’s present in everyone’s body, but those of us who have androgenic hair loss appear to have higher amounts of our scalps. This discovery came from the University of Pennsylvania, which means we now have an enzyme we can try to block to reduce androgenic hair loss, and potentially promote regrowth.
The receptor for this enzyme is GPR44, and the theory is that if we can block the receptor, we can reduce hair loss. There are ways of doing this naturally, as well as non-natural PGD2 inhibitors. One study focusing on the enzyme found that it works well alongside testosterone. As we know, testosterone, especially DHT, also has a role in male pattern hair loss. This further strengthens the idea that PGD2 exacerbates hair loss.

How does PGD2 cause hair loss?

As a relatively new area of focus in the hair loss world, we’re not sure how PGD2 leads to hair loss. However, many of the theories we have found are similar to those that surround DHT’s role in causing hair loss. These include:

  • Your hair’s follicles start to shrink, which means they have less potential for growing healthy and thick hair.
  • The follicles also spend more time in the telogen phase of hair growth, which is where the follicles lie dormant. The patches of follicles that shrink and spend time in the anagen phase are then unable to produce hair growth.
  • As PGD2 is a prostaglandin enzyme, it plays a role in inflammation. If these inflammatory processes affect the hair’s follicles, they’re less likely to produce good hair growth.

Another theory is that PGD2 stops the hair’s follicles from maturing in the first place. For those who experience androgenic alopecia at a young age, the hair loss process quickens. At the same time, another study has revealed that PGD2 causes apoptosis in the cells that bring keratin to our hair. In other words, the cells commit suicide. While keratin doesn’t play a significant role in initiating hair growth, it is essential if you want to have hair that’s shiny and strong. As a result, we can assume that PGD2 has the potential to cause the hair we do manage to grow to become brittle and weak.

Are there any PGD2 inhibitors?

As we’ve already mentioned, the target area for PGD2 is GPR44. As such, if we can place a block between PGD2 and GPR44, we could potentially stop it from having an adverse effect. There are different ways to inhibit PGD2, some of which depend on reducing its production and others that act as a barrier between PGD2 and its receptor cells.

For example, omega-3 fatty acids lead to a reduction in PGD2 production. We know this because one study from the Perelman School of Medicine found that those who take supplements such as cod liver oil experience a reduction in the enzyme. Another study focusing on Chinese herbal medicine found that resveratrol has similar effects. While you can take a resveratrol supplement, it’s also possible to find it in food and drink. Interesting, we’ve seen that there are high levels of it in red wine.

As for producing a blockade between PGD2 and GPR44, researchers have found that luteolin produces histamines and leukotrienes that stand between the two. You can see luteolin in its natural forms in chamomile tea, celery, and onions. An interesting pharmacological source is aspirin. However, before you start taking aspirin in a bid to stop PGD2 reaching GPR44, you should consult a doctor. If you suffer from specific blood disorders or asthma, aspirin will cause more harm than good in other areas of your body.

According to the Telegraph, pharmaceutical companies have begun investigating the potential for blocking the enzyme and bringing a hair loss treatment to the shelves. While this article was published a few years ago, it’s worth bearing in mind that most drug companies face at least a decade’s worth of rigorous clinical trials before introducing a truly useful product. However, the fact that it’s under investigation is a positive sign.

What are the other benefits of reducing PGD2?

Overall, having too much PGD2 can hurt other areas of your body. While it plays a decisive role in helping you sleep, and you do need some prostaglandins to regulate the positive elements of inflammatory processes, some of the more harmful side-effects of excessive amounts include:

It’s a bronchoconstrictor

PGD2 narrows the airways. To a degree, this is beneficial, as it helps your airways to perform their role. However, with too much PGD2, your airways may narrow, making it difficult to breathe.

It dilates the blood vessels

If you’re prone to flushing or if you have a condition such as rosacea, PGD2 won’t work in your favor. As it induces vasodilation, it increases flushing. For women who are in the midst of the menopause, this also means hot flushes feel worse.

While PGD2 and its role in hair loss is a relatively new discovery, it’s still one that we find exciting. There are some drugs out there that will reduce its potential to induce hair loss, but, before you turn to them, you need to ensure they won’t affect any ongoing medical conditions or other treatments you’re taking. As such, you may want to consider looking at natural means of inhibiting PGD2, while still bearing in mind that organic remedies can have side effects too.

Written by Robert B. Brown

Dermatologist. Researcher. Writer. There are only two things more important than my beard in life; My wife and my two kids. I'm a guy full of surprise. If you don't hear me talk about my hair or beard, it's probably because I am watching the UFC.

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