DPC regulates hair growth through their interaction with other cells within the hair follicle, and unsaturated fatty acid-derived prostaglandins such as latanoprost and isopropyl unoprostone — whose structures are similar to those of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids — have previously been reported to increase hair growth in humans and mice.
Mackerel-derived fermented fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA (7.4%) and EPA (5.4%), is composed of approximately 57% unsaturated fatty acids and 40.8% saturated fatty acids, with DHA being its second most abundant unsaturated fatty acid.
DHA-containing fermented fish oil has been found to help ameliorate atopic dermatitis, memory loss and oxidative stress, but little has been reported on its effects against hair loss.
Whiskers and fur
Researchers at Jeju National University therefore conducted a study to demonstrate the impact and mechanism of mackerel-derived fermented fish oil extract and its DHA component on the control of hair growth.
They cultured vibrissa (whisker) follicles from rats and split them into three groups: a vehicle-treated control group, a positive control group supplemented with minoxidil (an anti-hypertensive vasodilator medication often used to treat hair loss), and a treatment group supplemented with fermented fish oil.
After 14 days, the researchers reported that the fermented fish oil extract had significantly increased the length of the hair fibres by 175.1%, compared to the vehicle-treated control group (100%) and the minoxidil-supplemented positive control group (153.1%).
The extract had also markedly increased DPC proliferation by inducing the progression of the cell cycle to promote hair growth.
In particular, DHA was found to have induced DPC proliferation significantly, by 112%, 127% and 112% at concentrations of 5µM, 10µM and 20µM of fermented fish oil, respectively.
The researchers also used mice to test the effect of the fermented fish oil extract on hair growth. They divided the mice into three groups: a control group and two treatment groups — in one, each mouse received 50µg/mL of fermented fish oil daily and in the other, each received 100µg/mL daily.
The fermented fish oil extract was applied topically to the mice daily for 35 days after depilation, and was subsequently found to have stimulated hair growth significantly. The supplemented mice exhibited changes in skin colour and hair growth from the 28th day onwards, and from the 35th day, hair growth was observed to be markedly greater in both treatment groups (43.6% and 48.8%) than in the control group (13.9%).
Potential for treatment
The researchers wrote: "These results indicate that fermented fish oil extract stimulated the transition to anagen, as well as increased the hair fibre length of the vibrissa follicles.
"The rat vibrissa follicles were cultured with the indicated concentrations of fermented fish oil extract or minoxidil, a positive control, for 14 days."
They then concluded: "We found that the hair growth promoting effect of fermented fish oil was mediated by the increase of DPC proliferation. Fermented fish oil extract has been shown to increase the proliferation of DPC, the regulators of hair growth, by promoting cell cycle progression.
"In addition, DHA, a main omega-3 fatty acid of fermented fish oil, has the potential to promote the proliferation of DPC by modulating the level of cell cycle-related proteins. Our results could help (the) development of hair loss treatments using fermented fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA."
Source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
"Mackerel-Derived Fermented Fish Oil Promotes Hair Growth by Anagen-Stimulating Pathways"
Authors: Jung-Il Kang, et al.