Fat cells in the skin have been identified as the source of chemicals needed to make hair grow, according to researchers in the US. Experiments on mice, reported in the journal Cell, suggested hair stem cells were controlled by fat.
Injecting a type of fat cell stimulated hair growth in mice which otherwise struggled to grow hair. The Yale University team says it may be possible to use the findings to one day restart hair growth to reverse balding.
They said there was a four-fold increase in the number of "precursor" fat cells in the skin around a hair follicle when it started to grow. They looked at defective mice which could not produce these fat cells. Hair normally grows in cycles, but in the defective mice - the follicles had become trapped in the dormant phase of the cycle.
Scientists injected fat cells from healthy mice into the defective mice. Two weeks later, hair follicles had started to grow.