I have previously covered different fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and their impact on hair growth. This post is a comprehensive summary of the key FGFs (cell signaling proteins) involved in hair follicle cycling.
Update: May 2021 — An interesting new study from China found that combination therapy with topical minoxidil and nano-microneedle-assisted fibroblast growth factor led to the most hair growth.
Fibrobasts Growth Factors and Hair Growth
There exist 23 members of the FGF gene family, each identified by a number at the end. At least 5 of these fibroblast growth factors have significant impact upon hair growth. Usually via a modulation of the Wnt/β-Catenin pathway and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expression. The fibroblast growth factor receptor family has 4 members,
FGF1, FGF2 and FGF10
FGF1, FGF2 and FGF10 have some positive impact on hair growth, although the research is limited. A Chinese study from 2015 found that FGF-1, FGF-2, and FGF-10 fibroblast growth factors promote hair growth. They do so by inducing and extending the anagen growth phase of hair follicle cycling.
A South Korean study from 2016 found that arachidonic acid increased the expression of FGF-10 (and FGF-7). This in turn promoted hair growth.
A Japanese study from 2016 concluded that FGF2 (also known as “basic fibroblast growth factor” or bFGF) seems to have a positive impact on hair growth. Interestingly, when I interviewed Dr. Malcolm Xing, he mentioned that FGF-2 is the preferred growth factor used at this clinic for his work purposes.
On this blog, I have covered FGF5 more than any other fibroblast growth factor. Interestingly, this particular growth factor needs to be inhibited in order to promote hair growth.
An Australian company named Cellmid has been very successful at selling its Evolis line of products. See the science behind their FGF5 inhibiting concept here and in the video below. On Amazon, their FGF5 inhibiting shampoo currently has an average rating of 4.1 out of 4.5. Cellmid seems to be doing well in spite of recent challenges.
The company’s products contain natural botanicals that have been shown to inhibit FGF-5. For example, one of the ingredients is Sanguisorba Officinalis Root Extract, known to reduce FGF5 and prolong the anagen hair growth cycle. A related Japanese patent.
FGF7 (also called keratinocyte growth factor, or KGF) is required for hair growth. The well known hair loss researcher Dr. Elaine Fuchs co-authored an important study on FGF-7, hair development and wound healing in 1995.
A 2000 study found keratinocyte growth factor to be an important endogenous mediator of hair follicle growth. Histogen’s now discontinued Hair Stimulating Complex product included KGF as one of the key hair growth factors.
An important 2013 mice study from U Penn found that FGF9 induces hair growth after wounding. Dr. George Cotsarelis was a co-author. More here. Reducing FGF9 expression decreased hair follicle formation. In contrast, over-expressing FGF5 led to a two to three-fold increase in the number of new hair follicles.
The researchers think that using FGF9 to treat wounds in people can also help regrow hair. Human skin tends to scar and not regenerate any hair after suffering injury, In contrast, mice skin is much better at also regrowing hair after injury.
Follica licensed the intellectual property rights soon after the study was published. The actual 2009 patent can be seen here. It seems like there exists a window of opportunity after wounding during which:
“The FGF9 pathway could be modulated to potentiate hair neogenesis”.
Cellcurin Topical Fibroblast Growth Factor 9
Interestingly, a 2019 study from South Korea tested a trademarked cocktail containing topical FGF9 (Cellcurin). They used this growth factor cocktail (GFC) in combination with microneedling on patients with androgenetic alopecia. The results (see below image) indicate Cellcurin to have a positive impact on hair growth and follicle thickness. A related article also mentions the addition of NMN.
I hope someone can make a topical cocktail of most of the above fibroblast growth factors. At the very least, maybe this will reduce hair loss drastically.