Valproic acid and alopecia: A two-edged sword

    October 2017 in “Asian Journal of Psychiatry
    Adesh Kumar Agrawal, Soumitra Das
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    TLDR Valproic acid can cause hair loss when taken orally but may promote hair growth when applied topically.
    Valproic acid, commonly used to treat seizures and as a mood stabilizer, is known to cause side effects including hair loss, which is dose-dependent and typically non-scarring. This hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, usually begins 2 to 6 months after treatment initiation. However, recent studies have revealed a paradoxical effect where topical valproic acid can promote hair growth. An experimental study in South Korea using murine models and human dermal papilla cells demonstrated that topical valproic acid can induce hair regrowth by activating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. A clinical trial also showed that topical valproic acid significantly increased hair count in male patients with androgenetic alopecia compared to a placebo. These findings suggest that while valproic acid can cause hair loss as a side effect, it may also have the potential to be used as a treatment for alopecia when applied topically. Further evidence-based human studies and molecular research are needed to confirm these findings and understand the mechanisms behind valproic acid-induced hair growth.
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