The effect of changes in the fat tissue on the synchronized patterns of hair follicle growth has long been established; however this new discovery shows how hair growth activated fat tissue growth in the skin below the hair follicle, and could lead to the development of a cream to dissolve fat.
In particular, the protein that activated hair follicle growth was shown to also inhibit fat production.
Skin regulates fat development
"This is the first demonstration that the opposite also holds true in that the skin below the hair follicle can regulate the development of fat," says Professor Rodney Sinclair from the University of Melbourne and Epworth Hospital.
In what the researchers are calling the ‘world first’ study, they have confirmed that changes in the hair growth cycle led to fluctuations in the thickness of the underlying fat layer of the skin.
The discovery could affect future treatment of obesity, male and female pattern baldness and alopecia; an autoimmune condition that affects 1-2% of the general population at some stage in their life.
Sinclair and his team worked in collaboration with lead Professor Fiona Watt at King's College London, and says that these findings could potentially be used both as a means to replace fat lost in scar tissue or as a localized treatment for obesity.
"The specific chemicals identified in this study could be produced synthetically and used in creams for topical application to the skin to modulate growth of fat beneath the skin."
"A cream could trim fat specifically where it was applied by 'pausing' the production of factors that contribute to fat cell growth," he adds.
G. Donati, V. Proserpio, B. M. Lichtenberger, K. Natsuga, R. Sinclair, H. Fujiwara, F. M. Watt. Epidermal Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulates adipocyte differentiation via secretion of adipogenic factors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1312880111