Hair growth promotion by δ-opioid receptor activation

Mei Zheng, Nahyun Choi, Gianfranco Balboni, Ying Xia, Jong Hyuk Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Literature has revealed that the delta opioid receptor (DOR) exhibited diverse pharmacological effects on neuron and skin. In the present study, we have investigated whether the activation of DOR has hair-growth promotion effects. Compared with other opioid receptor, DOR was highly expressed in epidermal component of hair follicle in human and rodents. The expression of DOR was high in the anagen phase, but it was low in the catagen and telogen phases during mouse hair cycle. Topical application of UFP-512, a specific DOR agonist, significantly accelerated the induction of the anagen in C3H mice. Topical application of UFP-512 also increased the hair length in hair organ cultures and promoted the proliferation and the migration of outer root sheath (ORS) cells. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of DOR by naltrindole significantly inhibited the anagen transition process and decreased hair length in hair organ cultures. Thus, we further examined whether Wnt/β-catenin pathway was related to the effects of DOR on hair growth. We found that Wnt/β-catenin pathway was activated by UFP-512 and siRNA for β-catenin attenuated the UFP-512 induced proliferation and migration of ORS cells. Collectively, result established that DOR was involved in hair cycle regulation, and that DOR agonists such as UFP-512 should be developed for novel hair-loss treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-649
Number of pages7
JournalBiomolecules and Therapeutics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Korean Government and the Tech Incubator Program for Starup Korea (Grant No. 10388970).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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