New research on Male Balding

More Complex than Imagined

How many genes are implicated in male balding? In previous studies several genes were identified.  A new study from the UK, however, has shown that male balding is far more complicated and many hundreds of genes contribute to balding in men. It identified 287 genetic regions linked to male pattern baldness. This large study examined data from over 52,000 men.

Of these 287 genetic regions, 40 were on the X chromosome (which men get from their mothers). This was confirmation that a man's mother does have an important impact on susceptibility to hair loss. The impact of the mother's side of the family was most important in men with early onset genetic hair loss in comparison to men developing hair loss in their late 30s and beyond.

Using these 287 genetic regions, it was possible for researchers to give a given man a 'risk score' in order to predict men who were likely to have hair loss and men who were not likely to have hair loss. For example, among those men with a low score, their risk for severe hair loss was only 14 %. Those men with a high score had nearly a 60 % chance of moderate to severe hair loss.

This study confirmed a similar finding as our previous instagram post showed last week - namely that many of the genes regulating hair loss in men also give an increased chance for shorter height. The present study also uncovered additional associations including an association between male balding and having a lower risk of bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: This is an exciting study and builds on previous studies which identified only a limited number of genes. This data may improve our ability to predict and treat genetic hair loss in men.

Hagenaars SP, Hill WD, Harris SE, Ritchie SJ, Davies G, Liewald DC, et al. (2017) Genetic prediction of male pattern baldness. PLoS Genet 13(2): e1006594

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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