PeerJ . 2016 Nov 1;4:e2624. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2624. eCollection 2016.

Therapeutic Role of Human Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) in Treating Hair Loss

Yonghao Qi #  1 Miao Li #  1 Lian Xu #  1 Zhijing Chang #  1 Xiong Shu #  1 Lijun Zhou  1

1 Tianjin Key Laboratory for Modern Drug Delivery & High-Efficiency, School of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, People’s Republic of China.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a paracrine hormone that plays an important role in epithelial-mesenchymal transition. HGF secreted by mesenchymal cells affects many properties of epithelial cells, such as proliferation, motility, and morphology. HGF has been reported to promote follicular growth. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the therapeutic role of HGF in hair loss treatment. A recombinant vector containing the human HGF (hHGF) gene (pTARGET-hHGF) was constructed, and the expression of hHGF in vitro was quantitatively and qualitatively evaluated. The effect of hHGF on hair growth was tested in mice, and results demonstrated that pTARGET-hHGF was successfully delivered into fibroblasts in vitro leading to a high expression of hHGF. Local injections of the pTARGET-hHGF recombinant vector into mice resulted in multiple beneficial effects compared to placebo, including faster hair regeneration, improved follicle development, and significantly increased HGF receptor (HGF-R). In conclusion, we have established a nonviral vector of hHGF which could be utilized to manipulate the sheath fibroblasts surrounding hair follicles (HF), thereby stimulating hair regeneration.

Keywords: Animal model; Fibroblasts; Hair follicles; Hepatocyte growth factor; Transfection.