Category Archives: Valproic Acid

Valproic Acid and Hair Growth

Last year, I discussed new groundbreaking research from South Korea in relation to the development of a new peptide called  PTD-DBM. This product can activate the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accelerate hair regrowth via wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis. One part of the findings also dealt with valproic acid and its impact on hair.

Valproic Acid and Hair Growth Research

In the above work that was led by Dr. Kang-Yell Choi, the researchers also found that topical valproic acid (VPA) sped up hair growth in mice. Valproic acid (also known as valproate and sodium valproate) is a medication that is used to treat epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder and migraines. However, this chemical can cause significant side effects and is not something to be take lightly.

In the past, there have also been other studies that found hair growth benefits of valproic acid (brand name Depakote). For example, these 2014 findings from South Korea suggest VPA grows hair in humans when used in a topical version.

Several other studies have indicated that valproic acid can change hair color and also change hair texture. However, most of the past research on this subject matter seems to be on small sample sizes. And a majority of these findings seem to be coming from one country: South Korea. Including these clinical trials from 2012.

Valproic Acid and Wounding

Early this week, commentator “John Doe” posted a link to an interesting new study titled “Transcutaneous implantation of VPA-encapsulated dissolving microneedles induces hair regrowth“.

Besides the discussion about valproic acid and hair growth, the study covers the fascinating phenomenon of this unique idea of valproic-acid-encapsulating dissolving microneedles (DMN-VPA). Apparently this method creates dermal micro-wounds than enhance the effects of the VPA upon hair growth. This also seems to support the wounding concept behind the technology of Follica.

Valproic Acid Hair Researcher Dr. Kang Choi.

One of the co-authors of this new paper is the same Dr. Kang-Yell Choi that I mentioned earlier in the post, and the research is yet again conducted in South Korea. Mr. Choi has his own wikipedia entry, and he deserves a photo in this post. He works at Yonsai University. According to the scientists behind this latest research:

“Micro-wounding-mediated implantation of DMN-VPA upregulates expression of Wnt/β-catenin pathway, alkaline phosphatase, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, loricrin and HF stem cell markers, including keratin 15, and CD34 more effectively than topical application.”

Injecting an Epilepsy Drug into the Scalp

At first, I was considering adding the above findings at the top of my next “brief items of interest” post. However, earlier today, my alerts notified me of a new article in newscientist magazine titled “Male balding may be cured by injecting epilepsy drug into scalp.

I can not access the whole article, but it is about injecting valproic acid into your scalp to regrow hair. If anyone manages to read the whole article, please post about it in the comments. It seems like this predominantly South Korean led area of research is now finding its way into the US.

Valproate and Hair Loss

  • One unusual thing I noticed is that there are a lot of search results on Google that suggest valproic acid can also cause hair loss in people who are taking it orally for seizures and other such conditions.
  • One 2018 article found that oral valproic acid is more likely to cause hair loss. This valproate induced hair loss is typically diffused, nonscarring, and dose related.
  • A while back I covered a self-experimenter by the name “Swisstemples” in detail. One of the ingredients in his protocol is VPA.

New Biochemical Material PTD-DBM to Target CXXC5

Edit: It seems like this CXXC5 targeting study was first published in June 2017. Not sure why they now have this newer November 2017 publication date, nor why the global media only covered it so intensively this past week.

Update: A Reddit thread on this went bonkers with over 2,500 comments.


Last week, several of my alerts led to South Korean websites that discussed new successful local research targeting the Wnt pathway to reverse hair loss. Since I very recently wrote a post concerning the Wnt pathway, I was planning to save this news for my next “brief items of interest” post.

However, first reader “Malcolm” emailed me and said that this development was worth its own post. Thereafter, in the past week, four different people commented about this news. And there are now many brief online news articles being published on this subject daily it seems. So I decided it was worth writing a second post related to Wnt in less than a month.

Targeting of CXXC5 by PTD-DBM Peptide Stimulates Hair Regrowth

The actual paper was published in the prestigious Journal of Investigative Dermatology. South Korean scientists found that CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 (CXXC5) is a negative regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. In fact, CXXC5 is upregulated in both thinning hair and arrector pili muscles in balding scalps.

The scientists managed to disrupt something termed as the “CXXC5-Dishevelled interaction” with a newly developed competitor peptide biomaterial called PTD-DBM. This resulted in activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accelerated hair regrowth and wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis in mice. Yet more evidence on the benefits of wounding?

Interestingly, at the start of the above paper, they also mention the famous hair loss researcher Dr. Luis Garza and his recent paper (co-authored with Dr. Dangwon Kim) titled “The Negative Regulator CXXC5: Making WNT Look a Little Less Dishevelled“. Perhaps Dr. Garza is also collaborating on this research?

Valproic Acid and Hair

Also of interest, the scientists added valproic acid into the mix and found that it sped up hair growth in the mice. There has been some evidence on the benefits of valproic acid to scalp hair in the past. In fact a seminal work on the subject also came from South Korea in 2014, when scientists found that topical valproic acid increases hair counts in balding men. Apparently, valproic activates the activates the Wnt/β-catenin pathway (and inhibits glycogen synthase kinase 3β).

South Korean Sources

Below are some of the online South Korean sites that covered this story. This research must be significant enough to be covered in so many local sources. Moreover, while the research team was led by Dr. Kang-Yell Choi of Yonsei University, some of the below sources suggest involvement of the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in this work.

Future PTD-DBM Drug Development

The UK’s Metro newspaper covered this story today. Key quote from Kang-Yell Choi, the main researcher involved:

“We have found a protein that controls the hair growth and developed a new substance that promotes hair regeneration by controlling the function of the protein. We expect that the newly developed substance will contribute to the development of a drug that not only treats hair loss but also regenerate damaged skin tissues”.

Mr. Kang-Yell Choi seems to have many patents related to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway to his name. He even has his own wikipedia entry.