PPAR-γ signalling as a key mediator of human hair follicle physiology and pathology

Yuval Ramot, Marta Bertolini, Maria Boboljova, Yoshikazu Uchida, Ralf Paus
Experimental Dermatology 2019 November 26
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are abundantly expressed in human skin, with PPAR-γ being the most intensively investigated isoform. In various ex vivo and in vivo models, PPAR-γ-mediated signalling has recently surfaced as an essential element of hair follicle (HF) development, growth and stem cell biology. Moreover, the availability of novel, topically applicable PPAR-γ modulators with a favourable toxicological profile has extended the range of potential applications in clinical dermatology. In this review, we synthesize where this field currently stands and sketch promising future research avenues, focussing on the role of PPAR-γ-mediated signalling in the biology and pathology of human scalp HFs, with special emphasis on scarring alopecias such as lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia as model human epithelial stem cell diseases. In particular, we discuss whether and how pharmacological modulation of PPAR-γ signalling may be employed for the management of hair growth disorders, for example, in scarring alopecia (by reducing HF inflammation as well as by promoting the survival and suppressing pathological epithelial-mesenchymal transition of keratin 15 + epithelial stem cells in the bulge) and in hirsutism/hypertrichosis (by promoting catagen development). Moreover, we explore the potential role of PPAR-γ in androgenetic alopecia, HF energy metabolism and HF ageing, and consider clinical perspectives that emanate from the limited data available on this so far. As this field of translational human hair research is still in its infancy, many open questions exist, for which we briefly delineate selected experimental approaches that promise to generate instructive answers in the near future.

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