Olfactory receptor OR2AT4 regulates human hair growth

Jérémy Chéret, Marta Bertolini, Leslie Ponce, Janin Lehmann, Teresa Tsai, Majid Alam, Hanns Hatt, Ralf Paus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Olfactory receptors are expressed by different cell types throughout the body and regulate physiological cell functions beyond olfaction. In particular, the olfactory receptor OR2AT4 has been shown to stimulate keratinocyte proliferation in the skin. Here, we show that the epithelium of human hair follicles, particularly the outer root sheath, expresses OR2AT4, and that specific stimulation of OR2AT4 by a synthetic sandalwood odorant (Sandalore®) prolongs human hair growth ex vivo by decreasing apoptosis and increasing production of the anagen-prolonging growth factor IGF-1. In contrast, co-administration of the specific OR2AT4 antagonist Phenirat® and silencing of OR2AT4 inhibit hair growth. Together, our study identifies that human hair follicles can engage in olfactory receptor-dependent chemosensation and require OR2AT4-mediated signaling to sustain their growth, suggesting that olfactory receptors may serve as a target in hair loss therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3624
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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