Category Archives: Adenosine

Adenosine and Adenovital from Shiseido

I originally wrote this post in 2014, when researching Shiseido and Replicel. At the time, I came across something interesting in their May 2013 partnership announcement document. I learnt about Shiseido’s very popular Adenosine based Adenovital hair growth products. Subsequently, I even added the Adenovital shampoo in my best hair loss shampoos page.

Edit: A new 2020 study found Adenosine to promote human hair growth. See the bottom of this post for more studies.

Update: August 30, 2020

Adenosine in Japan

Adenosine for Hair Growth
Adenosine is highly recommended for hair growth in Japan.

YoungJet just gave us an update on Dr. Takashi Tsuji and his August 25th Zoom conference. Apparently, Dr. T and his team at RIKEN have discovered 3 new hair growth compounds that are more effective than Minoxidil. I was very surprised that instead of giving us more information about his hair multiplication procedure, Dr. T talked about new compounds. YoungJet said this was because the lecture was mainly targeted at cosmetics manufacturers and salons.

The hair multiplication procedure will be extremely expensive, so perhaps cheaper hair growth products will always be popular. In any case, the most interesting thing in this latest video from YoungJet was Dr. T mentioning “Adenosine” as a recommended hair loss product. In the US and Western Europe, Adenosine is never mentioned as a hair growth product.

Shiseido’s Adenovital Hair Loss Shampoo

Getting back to the Shiseido’s document, they state the following:

Shiseido Adenovital Scalp Essence“We released “Medicated Flowline” in 1982 and “Medicated Adenogen” with a biogenic substance “adenosine” in 2005, and “THE HAIR CARE ADENOVITAL SCALP ESSENCE” became a huge hit in the entire Asian region, recording the sales of over 1 million bottles in 1.5 years after the release in February of 2011.”

This was interesting to me because I do not remember ever hearing much about adenosine. Nor this Shiseido Adenovital Vital Scalp Essence product here in the US. For more background information, see the following article on the products’s 2011 release in Asia.

Adenosine versus Minoxidil


After doing some online research, I came across a few forum threads on adenosine from the mid-2000s. But not much more thereafter. Initially, there were expectations that adenosine based products would be even better than Minoxidil when it came to hair regrowth.

Both products are thought to share some similar characteristics insofar as the mechanism of action goes. We are even today continuing to learn about the various ways in which Minoxidil works to grow hair.

Note that Adenosine is related to Adenine and Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Some surgeons use liposomal ATP spray after hair transplants in order to aid healing and graft survival.

Studies and References

— A 2001 study from Japan found that the positive effect of Minoxidil on hair is mediated by adenosine.

— For the female readers of this blog, a Japanese study from 2008 found adenosine to improve hair growth and thickness in women.

— A South Korean study from 2011 found that adenosine:

“Promoted the expression of several growth factors that are responsible for hair growth, including fibroblast growth factors (FGF)-7, (FGF)-2, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).”

— A 2013 study from Iran concluded that topical application of a 0.75% adenosine solution had the same effect as Minoxidil 5% in terms of hair growth. According to patient feedback, adenosine was superior to Minoxidil in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA). It prevented further hair loss faster, and stimulated superior hair growth.

— More recently, a 2015 study from Japan concluded that topical adenosine increases the proportion of hair that is thick in Caucasian men with AGA. Another 2015 study from the same country found that topical adenosine increases thick hair ratio in Japanese men with AGA.

I wonder why we did not hear more on a product that sold over 1 million bottles in Asia in one and a half years after being introduced in 2011? My guess is that the results did not prove comparable to the results from Minoxidil. It is nevertheless encouraging to read about Shiseido’s lengthy history in hair loss related research and product development.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)

Late in 2014, I posted about Shiseido’s Adenovital product made with Adenosine in it. In fact the solid science behind this product, its popularity in Asia, and the good reputation of Shiseido all convinced me to add this product to the very short list of recommended hair loss products page on this site. While I was quite certain that this product would not be as good as Finasteride or Minoxidil for most people, I felt that it was very possible that it resulted in some new hair growth.

One of the studies in that blog post from last year suggested that Adenosine promotes the expression of several growth factors responsible for hair growth, including fibroblast growth factors FGF-7, FGF-2, insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

I was planning to focus more on writing about these growth factors in 2015, and lo and behold I got my first chance several weeks ago when a new company called Follicept (trademarked name) announced that it had developed a gel product that would deliver IGF-1 to the scalp and in the process bolster hair growth. I was highly skeptical about this company at the time and remain so. Even after the Bald Truth Talk forum thread on this subject took off (including some interesting posts from one of the company’s reps under the username “Follicept” whose real name is Devon), I am still far from convinced.

Update: Devon’s youtube video seems sincere and I hope he does not remove it.

For one, I am generally not a believer in new companies that are suddenly promoted enthusiastically in newspapers such as businesswire and are looking for funding/investors. Moreover, this company had not even started testing on humans at the time of the initial publicity, although they were planning to do so very soon thereafter. Also, while Follicept has some excellent material related to IGF-1 on their site in the FAQ section, I was quite surprised that one of their internal papers written by a  certain Grant Mangleburg starts of with the following sentences:

“Androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness (MPB) is a condition that affects up to 70% of men at some point during their lives. The condition is characterized by below-normal levels of androgens such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), testosterone, FSH, and sex hormone binding globulin at the dermal papillae.”

I would almost certainly say that the opposite is true… i.e., it should read “above-normal”. Am I mistaken or is this a particularly egregious typo/error as I suspect?!  I was also not impressed by the grammar and appearance of parts of their website, but perhaps I am being too picky here and should just be glad that there are more companies working on baldness treatments?

In any case, Follicept does have some things going for it. For one, the company is connected to The University of Florida and Prometheon Pharma. The company’s CEO seems very intelligent and accomplished. The Follicept product is also going to be very low-cost (comparable to the price of Rogaine), a great change from most other new products that tend to rip people off.

Most importantly, it seems like the company will not have to go through lengthy clinical trials, since IGF-1 has been used in humans for a while. In fact their are numerous studies supporting IGF-1’s beneficial properties when it comes to hair growth. So the product will quite likely be released by the end of this year as planned by the company assuming they get the funding they need. If effective, Follicept will also work for women.

One concern is that Shiseido’s Adenovital, while a very good product, never resulted in any kind of miracle result despite promoting the IGF-1 growth factor. Will Follicept be any better due to a possibly superior delivery mechanism? Can a new company that is still looking for funding produce something superior to a major established player such as Shiseido?

I am not a believer, but it seems like quite a few people on the forums and on the chat on this site have an opposing viewpoint. We are living in an age where it is increasingly easier for new players to challenge established players. e.g., Tesla versus GM/Ford/Chrysler or Uber versus Taxis or Airbnb versus hotel chains. So perhaps we will soon see more such new entrants in the hair loss world who succeed.