The length and size of hair are depend on the anagen term in its hair cycle. It has been reported that the some cell growth factors, such as VEGF, FGF-5S, IGF-1 and KGF, induce the proliferation of cells in the matrix, dermal papilla and dermal papillary vascular system and increase the amount of extra cellular matrix in dermal papilla and then maintain follicles in the anagen phase. On the other hand, negative factors, like FGF-5, thrombospondin, or still unknown ones, terminate the anagen phase. If the negative factors become dominant against cell proliferation factors according to fulfilling some time set by the biological clock for hair follicles, TGFβ induced in the matrix tissues evokes apoptosis of matrix cells and shifts the follicles from anagen to catagen. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by miniaturizing of hair follicles located in the frontal or crown part of scalp and are hereditarily more sensitive to androgen. In their hair cycles, the androgen shortens the anagen phase of follicles and shifts them to the catagen phase earlier than usual. The mode of action of hair growth effect of minoxidil is not completely elucidated, but the most plausible explanation proposed here is that minoxidil works as a sulfonylurea receptor (SUR) activator and prolongs the anagen phase of hair follicles in the following manner: minoxidil (1) induces cell growth factors such as VEGF, HGF, IGF-1 and potentiates HGF and IGF-1 actions by the activation of uncoupled SUR on the plasma membrane of dermal papilla cells, (2) inhibits of TGFβ induced apoptosis of hair matrix cells by opening the Kir 6.0 channel pore coupled with SUR on the mitochondrial inner membrane, and (3) dilates hair follicle arteries and increases blood flow in dermal papilla by opening the Kir 6.0 channel pore coupled with SUR on the plasma membrane of vascular smooth muscle cells.
2002 by The Japanese Pharmacological Society