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Endothelium-Derived Relaxing Factor and Minoxidil: Active Mechanisms in Hair Growth

Peter H. Proctor, PhD, MD
Arch Dermatol. 1989;125(8):1146. doi:10.1001/archderm.1989.01670200122026.
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To the Editor.—  Recent discoveries imply a role for the nitroxide free radical (NO) in the control of vascular tone, platelet function, and in the central nervous system.1,2 The NO is apparently endothelium-derived relaxing factor, or EDRF,1,2 an endogenous compound probably accounting for the action of nitrovasodilators such as nitroglycerin. Because many other vasodilators act by increasing the endothelial production and release of EDRF, the elucidation of this system has caused a revolution in vascular physiology.Such discoveries may also explain the vasodilatory action of another nitro compound, whose name, "miNOxidil," betrays its chemical affinity to EDRF (Figure). That is, minoxidil or (more likely) an active metabolite may be an EDRF agonist. Further, EDRF and minoxidil both activate guanylate cyclase,1-3 an action thought to account for their common vasodilatory properties and one that is shared by many electronically activated compounds. Perhaps a separate action of EDRF on hair growth also explains minoxidil


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