New genetic risk factors for male-pattern baldness have been identified in two studies published online in Nature Genetics.
Male-pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, affects 40% of adult men and women. It not only has social implications, but has been linked to coronary heart disease as well. Previous work identified variation in the gene which encodes the androgen receptor as contributing to susceptibility, but additional genetic risk factors had not yet been discovered.
Two groups led by Axel Hillmer and Tim Spector independently report closely linked variants on chromosome 20 as predisposing to male-pattern baldness. The increased risk is substantial, with Spector and colleagues reporting that the 14% of men carrying one chromosome 20 variant and one androgen receptor variant have an increased risk of more than 7 times. Hillmer and colleagues show that the frequency of the chromosome 20 risk variant varies worldwide, and could explain part of the population-specific differences in androgenic alopecia. These variants are near two genes, PAX1 and FOXA2, although their role in hair loss, if any, has not yet been defined.
Axel Hillmer (University of Bonn, Germany)
Tim Spector (King's College London, UK)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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