Study of 52,000 men uncovers the genetics underlying male pattern baldness

February 14, 2017
Genetics of male pattern baldness are shown. Credit: Douglas Robertson, University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology

A genomic study of baldness identified more than 200 genetic regions involved in this common but potentially embarrassing condition. These genetic variants could be used to predict a man's chance of severe hair loss. The study, led by Saskia Hagenaars and W. David Hill of The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, is published February 14th, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

Before this new study, only a handful of genes related to had been identified. The University of Edinburgh scientists examined genomic and health data from over 52,000 male participants of the UK Biobank, performing a genome-wide association study of baldness. They pinpointed 287 linked to the condition. The researchers created a formula to try and predict the chance that a person will go bald, based on the presence or absence of certain markers. Accurate predictions for an individual are still some way off, but the results can help to identify sub-groups of the population for which the risk of hair loss is much higher.

The study is the largest genetic analysis of male pattern baldness to date. Many of the identified genes are related to hair structure and development. They could provide possible targets for drug development to treat baldness or related conditions.

Saskia Hagenaars, a PhD student from The University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, who jointly led the research, said: "We identified hundreds of new genetic signals. It was interesting to find that many of the genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers."

Dr David Hill, who co-led the research, said: "In this study, data were collected on hair loss pattern but not age of onset; we would expect to see an even stronger genetic signal if we were able to identify those with early-onset hair loss."

The study's principal investigator, Dr Riccardo Marioni, from The University of Edinburgh's Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, said: "We are still a long way from making an accurate prediction for an individual's hair loss pattern. However, these results take us one step closer. The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of ."

Explore further: Certain form of baldness at age 45 linked to higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer

More information: 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. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006594

Related Stories

Certain form of baldness at age 45 linked to higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer

September 15, 2014
A new, large cohort analysis from the prospective Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, indicates that men who had moderate baldness affecting both the front and the crown of their head at ...

Men perceived as younger, more attractive after hair transplant for baldness

August 25, 2016
Does how much hair a man has matter in how he is perceived? The answer is yes, according to a new article published online by JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

Baldness linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease

April 3, 2013
Male pattern baldness is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, but only if it's on the top/crown of the head, rather than at the front, finds an analysis of published evidence in the online journal BMJ Open.

Research identifies inhibitor causing male pattern baldness and target for hair-loss treatments

March 21, 2012
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified an abnormal amount a protein called Prostaglandin D2 in the bald scalp of men with male pattern baldness, a discovery that ...

Recommended for you

Maternal diet may program child for disease risk, but better nutrition later can change that

October 20, 2017
Research has shown that a mother's diet during pregnancy, particularly one that is high-fat, may program her baby for future risk of certain diseases such as diabetes. A new study from nutrition researchers at the University ...

New gene editing approach for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency shows promise

October 20, 2017
A new study by scientists at UMass Medical School shows that using a technique called "nuclease-free" gene editing to correct cells with the mutation that causes a rare liver disease leads to repopulation of the diseased ...

Researchers drill down into gene behind frontotemporal lobar degeneration

October 19, 2017
Seven years ago, Penn Medicine researchers showed that mutations in the TMEM106B gene significantly increased a person's risk of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the second most common cause of dementia in those ...

New clues to treat Alagille syndrome from zebrafish

October 18, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies potential new therapeutic avenues for patients with Alagille syndrome. The discovery, published in Nature Communications, ...

Genetic variants associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder identified

October 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found evidence of four genes that can be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group ...

An architect gene is involved in the assimilation of breast milk

October 17, 2017
A family of "architect" genes called Hox coordinates the formation of organs and limbs during embryonic life. Geneticists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.