Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) have found that an enzyme associated with the synthesis of fat in the body is also a key contributor to healthy skin and hair.
Mice that lack the enzyme acyl CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 or DGAT1, are lean, resistant to diet-induced obesity, are more sensitive to insulin and leptin, and have abnormalities in mammary gland development and skin.
When researchers genetically deleted the enzyme in mice, they found that lack of DGAT1 caused levels of retinoic acid to skyrocket, causing hair loss.
Retinoic acid, which comes from vitamin A (retinol), has been used to treat skin disorders including acne (Accutane) and psoriasis. Retinol can be toxic if not carefully controlled.
In mice without DGAT1, the skin was very sensitive to retinol. The loss of DGAT1 caused hair loss. Hair loss could be prevented by depriving the mice of vitamin A-rich foods. The results show that DGAT1 is an important component for controlling retinoic acid levels in the skin of mice, and vis-à-vis, have implication for human hair loss disorders.