COL17A1 Damage: Hair Thinning and Turning into Skin

Update: A blog reader from Brazil sent me something very interesting yesterday. Apparently, there was a study published less than two months ago that concluded that chronic inflammation was turning eye cells into skin cells! Read more here.

Today, the prestigious Science Magazine published two new studies related to hair loss and stem cells. They also had a brief summary on the link between aging, stem cells and alopecia, authored by Dr. Cheng-Ming Chuong from USC who I have mentioned on this blog before.

Update: Below news now also covered in many other sources, including Time, Wired, Guardian and (of course) the Daily Mail.

Collagen 17A1 and Shrinking Stem Cells

The first study from Japan is titled “Hair follicle aging is driven by transepidermal elimination of stem cells via COL17A1 proteolysis.” For non-scientists, the contents of that study are not very easy to understand without spending some time googling the various technical terms listed in there.

However, an easier to understand article analyzing the above study’s findings concludes that “One reason your hair is thinning is because some of it turns into skin.” The study also discusses shedding of epidermal keratinocytes from the skin surface. A lot of people complain about dandruff, itching and dermatitis throughout their scalp while they are slowly balding, and I have had those problems many times in the past decade.

Nizoral and sunshine have both helped me tackle those problems, but I can never seem to go for more than a few days without at least some itching and skin shedding. Note that a Japanese article on this study actually mentions the word “dandruff” in there when you translate to English.

The study authors found that hair follicles in women over age 55 were smaller and with lower levels of the protein Collagen 17A1 (see more on COL17A1 here). Age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction COL17A1. This in turn triggers the transformation into “epidermal keratinocytes”, aka skin.

It is good to see a study that is devoted to female hair loss sufferers. Moreover, one of the lead authors of the study is also a female by the name of Dr. Emi Nishimura. The researchers also engineered mice to lack the COL17A1 gene, and then found that these mice had no follicle-generating cells.

Foxc1 Activates Nfatc1 and BMP signaling

The second study is titled “Foxc1 reinforces quiescence in self-renewing hair follicle stem cells.”  Foxc1 (also known as Forkhead box C1) belongs to the Forkhead family of proteins and transcription factors.

Per these scientists from the University of Colorado, Foxc1 regulates the hair growth cycle, and perhaps manipulating this in future could prevent balding. There is also a strong link between Foxc1, Nfatc1 and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.

115 thoughts on “COL17A1 Damage: Hair Thinning and Turning into Skin”

  1. Guys there is an italian well known doctor, Giovanni Brotzu, that has created a lotion that should definitely stop the hair from falling out and recovery atleast 5 years of hairloss .Since i’m not an expert in dermatology , i will leave here the link of two interviews ( unfortunately in italian so you have to use google translate) . Anyway this product will be available in the late 2016 but unfortunately there are not any before-after pictures yet. I know there is a lot of skepticism on these new products, but the fact that this doctor is very trusted made me optimist about that. His father was a famous italian doctor and politician. Finally sorry for my english and good luck you all.
    PS: the first link is a 2016 interview, the second is a late 2015 one.

    1. If this snake oil actually grows back some decent hsir growth il buy it. At least in Europe they brings products to market unlike here in the usa and Asia where they just research and research and play with their dicks until we get more bald. Hopefully this Italian guy actually has a treatment that works better than rogaine for growth. Need it asap

    2. I’ve just read both articles. This product sounds quite promising. Looking forward to its release in Italy. Should be fairly easy to get it delivered elsewhere in Europe.

        1. italy is a country which lives for pleasure but they have brought up genies in invention like DA VINCI ,MICHELANGELO ECT ., so i should keep an eye on them.

  2. Conspiracy teory…pff..what a joke,,,AND ALL OF US RESPECT ALL HAIR LOSS RESEARCHERS QUALIFIED.

    Have a good day. A new treatment is coming. Be patient.

    1. ty si pekne sprostučký stále vypisuješ to isté a tá tvoja akože anglina :) pochop už že žiadna zazračná tabletka nebude max budu lieky na starostlivost o vlasy ktoré vypadávanie spomalia alebo zastavia ale žiadna tabletka rast novych vlasov nevyvola. Jedine riešenie je klonovanie ale to bude tak reálne o 10-15 rokov a aj to bude cena od 30tisíc už sa o tom viackrát písalo že to nebude lacné ale veľmi drahé

  3. I guess this makes sense. Receeding hairline, your scalp hair becomes oily and shiny. The multiple follicles in one cluster of follicle cells slowly one by one turn into skin cells, is that right? Thats why your hair seems thinner because the cluster becomes smaller.

    Honestly, i wish CRISPR was being used in these studies so we can advance and speed up testing.

    1. I’ve never seen this theory, I guess it’s wrong. Hairs thin and miniaturize one by one, every and each follicle, in the affected area.. that’s it, it has nothing to do with turning into skin cells, there’s no such a thing. Where did you take that from?

      1. However, an easier to understand article analyzing the above study’s findings concludes that “One reason your hair is thinning is because some of it turns into skin.

        This is on this page??

      2. Did you even bother to read the study?

        Did you find a flaw in the studies methodology you’d like to share with the group?

        Nah you’re right, your guess is probably more accurate than the results of months of painstaking work by a team of professional scientists.

        What exactly is the physiological process by which hair follicles reduce in size?

        If you actually bothered to read the study you’d see they were specifically looking at the mechanism by which hair follicles minaturize, which through stem cell fate tracking they discovered involved DNA damage leads to aging of stem cells which leads to a breakdown of a specific collagen protein (COL17A1) which initiates cell differentiation which causes a loss of epidermal keratinocytes.

        The accuracy of these findings is confirmed in genetically manipulated mice, whereby mice that have a genetic deficiency in COL17A1 are incapable of growing hair.

        This adds another important piece of to the puzzle. Studies have shown DHT and chronic inflammation are correlated with hairloss for some time, but the specific mechanism of action has not been fully explained. Now we know the aging of stem cells leads to a decrease of a specific type of collagen which is leads to miniaturization of hair follicles. From this we can infer that DHT and chronic inflammation increase the rate of stem cell aging or otherwise decrease collagen levels.

        Is this the full explanation of the process? Definitely not, but it provides several potential avenues of further research.

        Honestly this attitude of lazily dismissing scientific research based on a gut feeling without even bothering to try and understand it is the absolute worst.

  4. I don’t know why people here are sad and want a cure instead. Guys, more knowledge about hairloss = closer to the cure we get.
    Thank you admin for the news.

  5. Damage to and/or lack of COLLAGEN might be more important in relation to hairloss than we expect.

    As far as I know, Revita shampoo, resets my entire scalp when used 2/3 times a week. A day after the application, my skin is as oily and healthy as during the period before my hairloss started. This products ingredients like amino acids, repair skin damage as they have an effect on keratin, insulin and collagen in the skin.

    Collagen damage is probably one of the many ingredients of the hairloss cocktail.

      1. Everybody with hairloss and/or dermatitis might benefit from shampoo containing Ketoconazole. There are more shampoos on the market which contain Ketoconazole and other skin repair ingredients.

        A lot of sufferers use them as part of the Big3. You won’t get your hair back, but you will improve your skin conditions.

  6. Why scientist instead of trying to find how to grow back hair don’t try to find how to create new hair in the donor area? Maybe it’s more simple and this could be the cure associate with FUE.

  7. Maybe because it is the same thing… If you can generate hair in a place that has been stripped of follicles.. you can generate hair in places where the follicles are simply dormant…

  8. i’m saving up money for replicel/shiseido treatment and stock… I’m pretty certain they are the best shot we have

  9. We still haven’t seen one picture of replicel after all these years. Plus all the delays. Doesn’t look promising to me. Hopefully susheido tweaked it in their way to work.

    All these research papers are great but it won’t result in a working treatment for at least 10 yrs. Our only hope is replicel susheido, samumed, histogen, theracell, follica and jak inhibitors. All possible within 2 to 5 yrs. So this our hope. If you are 18yrx old then newer research like follicum could be great.

      1. Agree with julian. If replicel comes out with a shady histogen pic then I will be v really pissed! Replicel must show regrowth better than the best HT out there.

  10. Julian, being myself Spanish, I can tell you Italy is one of the greatest countries in human history. Your comment is an evidence of your ignorance. Read some books man.

    1. lol… Manuel, c’mon man, I’m joking. Off course they are, plenty of history, the country of the Roman Empire, Renaissance, Galileo, Michelangelo, Ferrari, capital of fashion, gorgeous women, all those beautiful unique places, everything… I just don’t think that, despite of all their rich history and culture, they will be the home country to the baldness cure, don’t think their medicine scientists are that good. Sorry man. My opinion.

      By the way, you’re Spanish, so the day you guys have stopped sticking the poor bulls you come to pester me.

      1. Ok Julian, may be I didn’t notice you were joking, sorry then for my comment :-)

        Regarding bullfighting, many of us in Spain are actively fighting against it, and believe me, we will overcome.

  11. Just to let everyone know there will not be a cure for baldness so stop fighting about where it will come from. Lol. A better more effective treatment will come out not a cure that we see with those yale studies with full regrowth. I hope I am totally wrong but I doubt it. Let’s pray for something 100x better than we have now that can at least gruw bs k 80% of hair. I try and stay positive but it’s hard when the hsir loss field is so behind.

    1. They’re scientists, not miracle workers. People seem to think that this is an easy problem to solve, when it’s actually very hard.

    1. Keep it up Steve! Minox ruined my hair line or I am just still going through a long shed with rogsibr. Propecia kept me at nw 1.5 for over 12 yrs

  12. Admin you should do a post on the Italian lotion that is getting recent buzz that is supposed to regrow and maintain hair.

  13. Yrs admin can you please write a post on that new Italian lotion. I can’t understand Italian but it looks interesting even of it gives just rogaine results. Everything helps :)

  14. I just cant understand why you think something that can turn us to nw2 cant grow full hair. It doesnt make sense.
    And growing 80% fully functional hair, is a miracle in my opinion, 100% of hair would just be a step further.

    Nasa always says, when jak would not work, i will shave my hair and forget about the cure. Maybe hes doing the best thing if he has truly forget about the hairloss crap and tries to chill his life. Because waiting for something without significant information is just devastating man it drives me crazy sometimes.

    1. Nk you are totally freaking right bro! We all made fun of nasa but he did the best thing. Fk these researchers and their bs studies. They would have cured it by now if they really wanted to. It’s freaking hair. All this crap the past 15 yrs resulted in nothing but false hope and photoshopped pictures. I’m so tired of it like you nk. It’s frustrating and we are all losing hair each day. Maybe we need to just accept the fact nothing better will come out any time soon and these companies are just issuing press results to get funding for crap treatments that are overhyped. If samumed doesn’t work then I’m pulling a nasa and shaving it off. F it! I have no faith in replicel or susheido. I think it’s a scam sorry guys. No pics no results then it’s all lies. Follica has till the end of 2016 to prove they have a working treatment or else he falls in the scam money hungry group too.

  15. Hello guys, i Just found this site on another forum (Credit goes to JohnMcClane), in this article are shown all the technical features of the italian product.In the lowest part of the article there are also some results of sperimentation on 5 groups with different formulations of the product, in particular the results of the first formulation (lotion A) are very very promising, with stop of hair loss after only 7 days, you better have a look.…5170247A1.html

  16. Guys i think that the cure is a topical formula that contain a topical antiandrogen (ex:spironolactone) with a formula that avoid systemic absorption, and also contain regrowth factors that restart hair follicle cycle via signals and pathways.

    1. I dont want to be pessimistic But honestly speaking i dont believe there will ever be a “magic” formula whether in a form of lotion or pill . I think the only solution would be if they really succeeded in finding a way to regenerate hair follicles in the donor site after a HT. This would mean that we will be able to achieve high density with hair transplants, unlimited donor and with the latest technologies an fue HT can give decent results in my opinion

  17. I just thought about dandruff and hair loss. Actually it makes sense because most of time you find dandruff on the front of your head and a very little on the donor area!

    1. I got rid of my dandruff 4 months ago with daily scalp massages. Scalp tingling and pain is completely gone too. However, I’m still losing hair and thinning. If your 5ar and dht can’t be blocked from follicles then you are screwed. I’m guessing my body has grown super sensitive to dht or the receptors grew more to compensate the propecia so I’m losing hair again .

    1. Peter we won’t hear from christiano till about next Oct or Nov. She has to wait and waste a year to let us all know if jak will work for mpb. If it does then give it another 2 yrs to start trials then a n other 6 to complete them. So when you are a solid nw 7 with no hope of return this treatment will come out and it WI just grow peach fuzz since we are all completely bald. Medical science works so fast lol

  18. I have a question. If DHT is the leading contributor in hairloss and the hairs on the back of heads are essentially immune to it. Why couldn’t they potentially just copy the DNA from those follicle cells and correct the faulty ones on top of the scalp? Replicel/CRISPR style

    1. Thats not right; the hairs on the back of the head are not resistance to dht because when they are transplanted in the bald area; they miniaturize after a period, the problem is in the bald skin medium .

  19. mjones this is your final warning. I noticed that you and jjones have used the same IP and e-mail for several comments and are the same person.

    You have made close to 500 comments on this blog. Do you realize how foolish you sound in most of your comments? Are you 14 years old or something?

      1. Could be he’s talking to his actual brother since I’ve seen jjones call him bro. And if he’s the same person – proxies are your friend, to prevent awkwardness like this :)
        May I suggest TOR, an excellent way to remain anonymous and change your IP temporarily

    1. I agree with your opinion.
      Certainly I can understand his frustration.
      But he should be more mature.

      Sorry,bad my English.

    2. I can assure you admin jjones isn’t me. That is a different person. Who is using my ip address which now worrisome. No I’m it 14 admin. What I write is the truth. I never offended anyone. I’m just saying what is really going on with these companies. Sorry for voicing my opinuon.

      1. Admin if you are seriously being honest about jjones please delete me from this forum. I don’t want my email and ip compromised. I’m very serious! Jjones whoever you are stop using my ip and email. Not cool man.

        1. Please confirm that jjones is really using my ip and email. This is something I need to know so I can report it. If you are just joking to make me look stupid so I stop writing on here then please let me know and I will stop. I just need to know if I am being hacked

          1. Limit yourself to 4 comments per day at most hereon. Yes jjones is magically using your IP and entered your e-mail. Maybe one of your family members also posting on here? In any case, both of you could be using a fake e-mail address (as that is what most people do and that is smart), and I am certain neither of you has a last name Jones based on your English.

  20. C’mon guys mjones is a good dude. He is just really really frustrated. He does need to do something productive with his energy though. Maybe start writing the big dogs like Gail from histogen or samumed..for example, I see the cures act is delayed again to disagreements. Im sure you all read that as I supplied the link in my last post? may have to copy and paste it as clicking on it wont work because it takes up two lines??? Anyway maybe someone here can get a hold of gail from histogen and samumeds CEO and ask if it would help if we write the congressmen/women and pleas for them to sign the cures act…admin sorry for protecting mjones but I like the guy in a non gay way and believe he brings something to the table. He just gets on rants now and then.

  21. Admin I’m being dead serious. I’m not jjones! No family members of mine are on here either. I could care less about posting on here any more. please take the proper protocols to protecting forum members from this hacking.

    1. I can’t prevent anyone from posting from any IP nor from hacking into your computer when you are online. Time for you to take CS 101 at your local college. Say hello to jjones if you do ever meet him. I liked him.

  22. Unless you are creating an account with my email address. Either way I’m done with this site. Best of luck to everyone on here dealing with hsir loss.

    1. No accounts are ever stored on here so nothing can be deleted. I will however send your IP addresses to the internet police and FBI just in case they can figure out how jjones hacked into your machine. I really care about your security and your well being so will do that as a favor. If the FBI calls you, please answer all questions honestly so we can both track down this jjones and punish him. Hope you can sleep better:-)

  23. This theory doesnt make sense. Havent you seen autoimmune alopecia guys with shiny scalp getting every hair back recently

  24. Hair loss is vey complex problem, I don’t know if anyone of u guys read about the Story of the Leper, the Bald Man and the Blind Man, please do so, it won’t take more than a minute of ur time
    The reason I brought this story up, is because those three conditions have one thing in common: no treatment… I just hope one day we will wake up with the news of cure to our hair loss… Amen

  25. A proper cure might be really complex..but I wish if someone can help us in a better artificial way…like biohair or something, which will be there forever…or atleast few years…looks almost natural…and no maintenance… what do you guys think…not toupees

  26. And another thing..I’m not your Bro kid…Be patient. 2016 AND 2017 we will be surprised in a good way. Things are changing … Farhan not you feel it? I think so..



  27. Looks like the news spreading everywhere the same that happened with JAK and follica……..
    So admin, when the follicles become a skin does it mean they die and we need to create new follicles?

    1. Hair follicles never completely die but only remain dormant. I think there is a company that’s working toward reactivating these follicles so that we get back the same amount of hair we had in our youth.
      oh man, just imagining that happening puts a smile on my face. hah : )

      1. Ok.
        I think that’s a very important concept man. Hair Follicles NOT DIE IN MALE PATTERN BALDNESS.
        Sorry for the incovenience.

  28. Hey Admin, just found this study:

    which might link in with some of these findings.

    Basically they studied environmental factors that altered cell growth hormones that regulate stem cell aging.

    One of the factors found to alter stem cell aging was a hypoxic environment, which links in to the study on scalp artery ligature restoring hair growth (although likely not without some significant health effects).

    Another factor was levels of Vitamin D, which possibly ties in with the theory of hair loss being an adaptation to deal with lower vitamin D levels from lack of sunlight exposure on the scalp.

    This also ties into more specific studies on DHT:

    Which has been shown to increase markers for DNA damage/oxidative stress in genetically susceptible hair follicles.

    Of course these are speculative assumptions, but I think its possibly a step closer to a unifying theory on hair loss, especially if DHT can be shown to increase DNA if we’re simply discussing various ways in which stem cell aging is regulated.

    It might also give a better indication of which future treatments might show promise. Of course there’s a huge number of hormones and genetic pathways involved, so we can’t say for certain how a treatment might fair in practice, but treatments that address this underlying issue of stem cell aging would seem to have a better promise.

  29. Guys who think Histogen is a cure…I am sry for you guys….its a big time scam …honestly with the results she was showing in pictures, she doesnt need any funding….lot of companies will be racing to her …its all bull…anyone can tell from the photos that they are big time nonsense…just playing around for funds..and then eventually they will go quite…all my hopes are on JAK or shisheido….iam not sure about sammued though…

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