Polyamines and hair: a couple in search of perfection

Yuval Ramot*, Marko Pietilä, Giammaria Giuliani, Fabio Rinaldi, Leena Alhonen, Ralf Paus

*Corresponding author for this work
15 Citations (Scopus)


Polyamines (spermidine, putrescine and spermine) are multifunctional cationic amines that are indispensable for cellular proliferation; of key significance in the growth of rapidly regenerating tissues and tumors. Given that the hair follicle (HF) is one of the most highly proliferative organs in mammalian biology, it is not surprising that polyamines are crucial to HF growth. Indeed, growing (anagen) HFs show the highest activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme of polyamine biosynthesis, while inhibition of ODC, using eflornithine, results in a decreased rate of excessive facial hair growth in vivo and inhibits human scalp hair growth in organ culture. In sheep, manipulation of dietary intake of polyamines also results in altered wool growth. Polyamine-containing nutraceuticals have therefore been proposed as promoters of human hair growth. Recent progress in polyamine research, coupled with renewed interest in the role of polyamines in skin biology, encourages one to revisit their potential roles in HF biology and highlights the need for a systematic evaluation of their mechanisms of action and clinical applications in the treatment of hair disorders. The present viewpoint essay outlines the key frontiers in polyamine-related hair research and defines the major open questions. Moreover, it argues that a renaissance in polyamine research in hair biology, well beyond the inhibition of ODC activity in hirsutism therapy, is important for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the manipulation of human hair growth. Such targets could include the manipulation of polyamine biosynthesis and the topical administration of selected polyamines, such as spermidine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)784-790
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2010


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