In a recently published study in PLOS Genetics, a group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom discovered genetic markers that can predict male pattern baldness. The physical trait has been linked to adverse health outcomes such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. Using data from over 52,000 participants throughout the UK, ages from 40 to 69 years old, the researchers were able to identify more than 250 independent genetic markers associated with hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is hair loss that affects the top and front of the scalp. Women can also be affected by hair loss and it is called female pattern hair loss. In men, the loss of hair is seen as a receding hairline. Researchers believe it is caused by genetics and the male hormone dihydrotestosterone. Treatment can include medication such as minoxidil or finasteride or hair transplant surgery. Male pattern baldness it the most common cause of hair loss.
Previous studies only found eight genetic markers. In this study, the researchers found more than 250 genetic markers. This study represents the largest study for baldness to date, according to the study in PLOS Genetics. Male pattern baldness affects around 80 percent of men and can have “substantial psychosocial impacts via changes in self-consciousness and social perceptions.” The study also reported that baldness may be a predictor of other adverse health outcomes. Using data from over 52,000 men, the data was split into two datasets “to build and apply a genetic predictor of baldness.” Parkinson’s disease was identified and linked to male pattern baldness, according to the study.
The researchers created a formula to predict the chances that a person will go bald. Part of the formula was based on genetic markers that were absent or present in the genes. With the results, the researchers hope to identify people within the population at risk for hair loss. The genetic signals for male pattern baldness come from the x chromosome which originates from the mother. Though, the researchers wrote that in the data collected, it was not known at what age the hair loss began to appear.
The researchers are still a long way from accurate predicting male pattern baldness in men, but the study brings scientists closer. With more research, the scientists hope to increase their our understanding of the genetic architecture that leads to the condition.
By Cheryl Werber