Geneticists are coming closer to understanding male pattern balding. A recent study published in the journal Nature describes how a gene that causes a rare hair loss disorder might also influence male pattern balding.
A genetic mutation was identified that seems to be involved in hypotrichosis simplex. This is a rare hair loss disorder that runs in families and causes hair follicle miniaturization. The hair follicles get smaller and more narrow, resulting in downy, fine hair.
The geneticists who conducted the study believe that the same of hair follicle miniaturization is also a key factor in male pattern baldness.
“The identification of this gene underlying hereditary hypotrichosis simplex has afforded us an opportunity to gain insight into the process of hair follicle miniaturization, which is most commonly observed in male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia,” said Angela M. Christiano, PhD, one of the researchers. She is a professor of dermatology and genetics and development at Columbia University Medical Center.
The study looked at a mutated version of the gene APCDD1. Prior studies of this gene already linked it to several hair loss problems. This study concluded that the mutated gene hampers a signaling pathway that is involved in the growth of hair. This may ultimately result in better treatments for male pattern balding and other forms of hair loss.
New or improved hair loss therapies from this type of research may be years away. Meanwhile, male pattern balding and certain other types of hair loss can be addressed using medication such as Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil). However, the effect of these medications ends when the patient stops taking the medication. At this time, the only permanent solution to most types of hair loss is a hair transplant.