Posts Tagged ‘Beard’

The Genetic Link

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Looking at research into Androgenic Alopecia (AGA) here’s what I found:

Hair follicles in different parts of the human body behave differently throughout the human lifespan. Beard growth is androgen-dependent, while hair sensitive to androgen experiences thinning as result of androgens. [25]

It seems androgens cause beard hair, armpit (axillary) hair and pubic hair follicles to enlarge while frontal and vertex scalp hair decrease is size. Others hair follicles like eyebrows and eyelashes don’t seem to change in size. [28]

Researchers in one study concluded this opposite impact of androgens on hair follicles of the beard and scalp was due “to differential gene expression within hair follicles”. [18] Another study stated the factors behind AGA “to be genetic predisposition coupled with the presence of sufficient circulating androgens” and “require the inheritance of several genes”. [3]

A study published in 2005 summarized the role of genetics with AGA by saying AGA is “androgen dependent, and genetic predisposition is the major requirement for the phenotype.”[9-] In other words, we can define AGA not only as androgen-dependent but also as a genetic condition.

Androgens would have no effect if it wasn’t for androgen receptors (AR’s). AR’s are what enables the human body to respond to androgens, and thus play a crucial role in male sexual development. Genetic variations in the AR gene are more common in men with an early onset of AGA.

German researchers named the androgen receptor gene as the cardinal prerequisite for balding.[9-] They concluded a certain variant of the androgen receptor is needed for AGA to develop. In the same year the results of this study were confirmed by other researchers.[10-]

This gene is recessive and a female would need two X chromosomes with the defect to show typical male pattern alopecia. Seeing that androgens and their interaction with the androgen receptor are the cause of AGA it seems logical that the androgen receptor gene plays an important part in its development.

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