How Curcumin May Prevent Scarring Alopecia

 
Scarring alopecia is known in "medical-ese" as cicatricial ("scarring") alopecia, and is generally poorly understood in the medical world.  However, it has been recently discovered that a protein that regulates fat cell (adipocyte) differentiation, known as "peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma)" is essentially deleted in scarring alopecia cases.
 
An example of Scarring (Cicatrical) Alopecia.
 
The most common form of scarring alopecia is lichen planopilaris. It has been demonstrated that PPARgamma is necessary for maintenance of a functional epithelial stem cell compartment in the hair follicles of mice. A deletion of PPARgamma in the bulge/isthmus area of the hair follicle creates a condition that resembles lichen planopilaris. [1]
 
More over, lichen planopilaris patients show gene expression changes that indicate a defect in fatty acid metabolism and peroxisome creation. If a resolution for scarring alopecia exists, the question now begs, can PPARgamma expression be enhanced?  The unequivocal answer is "yes."
 
A scarring alopecia, such as lichen planopilaris, requires the initial trigger of inflammation.  This inflammation is stimulated by abnormal functioning of the peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ), which in turn is responsible for creating defective fatty acid metabolism in the sebaceous gland.  As a result of the creating of a defective fatty acid metabolism, a cascade of inflammation is produced.
 
Medical drugs do exist that serve to provide an increase in expression of PPAR-γ, with one example being pioglitazone hydrochloride, which was prescribed to a patient suffering from lichen planopilaris at 15 milligrams per day. 
 
The patient tolerated the oral medication without any perceived adverse effects and reported almost no scalp itching in the first month of treatment. The patient continued taking oral pioglitazone for 8 months, after which the treatment was stopped. One year following, the patient remains symptom-free and without evidence of inflammation or further hair loss on examination. [2]
 
Due to this promising treatment, this sponsor-funded study followed a patent application for the use of PPAR-γ to treat scarring (cicatricial) alopecia.
 
Is there a natural way to enhance the expression of PPAR-γ?
 
Derived from the Indian curry spice turmeric, Curcumin is a compound that has been shown to possess a number of beneficial biological activities, one of which involves activation of the nuclear transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ). [3]
 
Curcumin may prevent scarring alopecia by activating the nuclear transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-y (PPAR-y).
 
Curcumin has been shown to reduce or eliminate inflammatory products from damaged lipids (fatty acids) through the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ). [4] Moreover, curcumin reduces advanced glycation end products by elevating the activity of glutamate-cysteine ligase and stimulating de novo synthesis of glutathione, a universal antioxidant that is found in significantly lower quantities in balding scalps.
 
Curcumin has been demonstrated to positively affect the sebacious glands from adverse products of defective fatty acid metabolism. [5] Therefore, curcumin may be considered a first option of treatment before resorting to prescription medications for scarring alopecia.  If you are interested in purchasing a trustworthy Curcumin supplement, we highly recommend Ortho Nutrition's™ Antioxidant Boost!
 
References:
 
[1]. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 May;129(5):1066-70.
[2]. Arch Dermatol. 2009 Dec;145(12):1363-6.
[3]. Gene Ther Mol Biol. 2009 April 1; 13(1): 20–25.
[4]. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Feb 21. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01910.x.
[5]. Chin Med. 2008; 3: 11.