While doing all the research on Shiseido and Replicel in recent months, I came across something interesting. In the May 2013 partnership announcement document on Shiseido’s website, towards the end is the following paragraph:
Shiseido’s Adenosine Hair Loss Products
“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 too much 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. Of course we are even today continuing to learn how Minoxidil works, so these were to some extent hypotheses.
Adenosine and Hair Growth Studies
— A 2001 study 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 adnosine increases the proportion hair that is thick in Caucasian men with androgenetic alopecia.
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 still encouraging to read about Shiseido’s lengthy history in hair loss related research and product development.