News from Japan details some fascinating new research into the role our gut bacteria might play in hair loss. We look closer.
The role that our gut bacteria plays in our broader health is only recently beginning to be understood… or at least grasped. The link between the immune system and the bacteria was highlighted by research. Mice born with without any bacteria lack important immune cells, but add even a restricted amount of bacteria and the immune system develops and produces diverse cells. That research has led to a good understanding of the effect of individual bacteria, as well as groups of bacteria, on the function of the immune system.
Bacteria and Hair Loss
Earlier research had shown that bacteria free mice that lack biotin in their diet will suffer from mild hair loss… pointing to the possibility of a bacterial imbalance being the cause. A team of scientists in Japan set out to learn more. They gave mice a diet with and without biotin and saw no hair loss. When they repeated the experiment at the same time as giving the mice a long course of antibiotics aimed at destroying the balance of bacteria in their gut. As expected the mice suffered mild hair loss. By watching exactly what happened in the gut bacteria during this process the scientists noted that a bacteria called Lactobacillus murinus had expanded during treatment. It could not produce biotin and so was identified as the likely cause of the biotin deficiency that triggered the hair loss. Indeed, when they fed bacteria free mice with the same bacteria they saw their mice become almost completely bald. In a final test they gave the mice the bacteria but a diet with regular levels of biotin.. and saw no hair loss. They also found that they could prevent the hair loss with injections of biotin.
What Does It All Mean?
Understanding how bacteria influences hair loss will offer new opportunities for treatment. The teasing possiblity is a simple probiotic supplement which would inhibit the biotin-eating bacteria that the Japanese team has shown plays a role in hair loss.
HIS Hair Clinic
Like the current story about the osteoporosis treatment (see more about that here) this news from Japan is exciting because it is a genuinely new avenue of exploration. It seems probable that rather than any one eureka moment the cure for hair loss will be an amalgum of several strands of research and results. Given the incredible discoveries around gut bacteria we have made already it seems eminently likely that they will play a part in the ultimate cure. We watch with interest. For the seriously interested you can click here to see the original report in the very scientific journal Cell Reports.
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