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
YoungJet just gave us an update on Dr. Takashi Tsuji and his August 25th Zoom conference. Apparently, the RIKEN team has discovered 3 new hair growth compounds that are more effective than Minoxidil. The lecture was mainly targeted at cosmetics manufacturers and salons. The most interesting thing in this latest video from YoungJet was Dr. Tsuji 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:
“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.