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Testosterone is necessary for the development of male pattern baldness, known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA); yet, the mechanisms for decreased hair growth in this disorder are unclear. We show that prostaglandin D2 synthase (PTGDS) is elevated at the mRNA and protein levels in bald scalp compared to haired scalp of men with AGA. The product of PTGDS enzyme activity, prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), is similarly elevated in bald scalp. During normal follicle cycling in mice, Ptgds and PGD2 levels increase immediately preceding the regression phase, suggesting an inhibitory effect on hair growth. We show that PGD2 inhibits hair growth in explanted human hair follicles and when applied topically to mice. Hair growth inhibition requires the PGD2 receptor G protein (heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide)–coupled receptor 44 (GPR44), but not the PGD2 receptor 1 (PTGDR). Furthermore, we find that a transgenic mouse, K14-Ptgs2, which targets prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 expression to the skin, demonstrates elevated levels of PGD2 in the skin and develops alopecia, follicular miniaturization, and sebaceous gland hyperplasia, which are all hallmarks of human AGA. These results define PGD2 as an inhibitor of hair growth in AGA and suggest the PGD2-GPR44 pathway as a potential target for treatment.
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