Is Male Pattern Baldness Genetic?

Table of Contents

Male Pattern Baldness

Date of Content: September 10, 2023
Written by: Jess Gayo
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD

What is male pattern baldness?

The most typical reason for male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA), is hair loss. A steady and regular pattern of hair loss and thinning characterizes this inherited disorder. Male pattern baldness can substantially affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence, even if it is mostly a cosmetic matter.

The main factors affecting male pattern baldness are hormones and genetics. It frequently comes from one of the two sides of the family—the mother’s or the father’s. The hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can shrink hair follicles and cause them to generate shorter and finer hair, is linked to the disorder. Affected follicles may eventually completely stop generating hair.

Male pattern baldness frequently begins with thinning hair at the top of the head and a receding hairline at the temples. These bald spots may grow larger as the condition worsens, eventually resulting in partial or total baldness on the top of the head.

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At what age does male pattern baldness start?

Male pattern baldness can begin at different ages, and the elements that affect it genetically, hormonally, and personally can affect the timing of it. Although there is no specific age at which it starts, comprehension of the basic features of male pattern baldness can help in understanding how it progresses.

In their late teens or early twenties, some men may already start to detect the first indications of this condition. Early-onset male pattern baldness can be emotionally difficult as it impacts self-image during a formative stage of life. These symptoms frequently include a receding hairline, thinning at the temples, or a more pronounced “widow’s peak.”

The mid-to late-twenties are typically when male pattern baldness starts to become more obvious. At this point, the hairline may further recede and the crown of the head’s thinning hair may become more noticeable. However, each person will progress at a different rate and degree.

Male pattern baldness often advances more by the time men are in their thirties and beyond. The Norwood scale is frequently used to describe the pattern of hair loss, with variable degrees of hairline recession and crown balding. While some men may have a reasonably consistent way of hair loss throughout this time, others may undergo severe hair loss.

What are the leading causes of male pattern baldness?

When estimating the risk of developing male pattern baldness, hereditary factors are to be considered. You may be more likely to develop early-onset baldness if your family has a history of the condition. It can even be a hereditary trait that can be passed down through many generations. 

A DNA test might help you know more about certain traits related to your hair health. While LifeDNA test results are not meant to diagnose any disease, your DNA analysis, however, can give you insights into your possible genetic predisposition for early on-set male pattern baldness or early AGA and what you can do to manage the risk.

Genetic Factors

One of the most significant indicators of male pattern baldness risk is the family history. Individuals with close relatives, particularly on the maternal side (mother’s father), who experienced male-pattern baldness,  are more likely to inherit the genetic predisposition.

The Androgen Receptor (AR) Gene, located on the X chromosome, is a key genetic factor in this hair condition. Variations in this gene can make hair follicles more sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which leads to the shrinking of follicles and the production of shorter, finer hair.

The Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have identified multiple other genetic markers associated with AGA as well. These studies have shed light on the complex genetic underpinnings of the condition, involving numerous genes and genetic variants. These Genes and SNPs include SNPs rs2497938 (AR), rs6047844 (PAX1, FOXA2), rs2180439 (LINC01432, RPL41P1), rs9287638 (HDAC4), rs2073963 (HDAC9), rs12565727 (TARDBP), rs12373124 (Intergenic), rs6945541(AUTS2), rs10502861 (SETBP1).

Non-Genetic (Environmental) Factors

Male pattern baldness is largely inherited, although hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle variables can also have an impact on how the illness manifests. These factors can interact with genetic predispositions, influencing the onset and severity of the condition. 

In people who are genetically susceptible to hair loss, hormonal imbalances, particularly high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), can hasten the process. DHT is a testosterone-derived hormone that can cause hair follicles to shrink, resulting in thinner and shorter hair. Another important non-genetic contributing element to male pattern baldness is aging. As people age, hair loss frequently becomes more obvious, and both the pace and degree of hair loss tend to accelerate.

Chronic stress can accelerate male pattern baldness in those who are vulnerable to it and also lead to hair loss in general. Hormones associated with stress can alter the natural cycle of hair development and increase shedding. Additionally, unhealthful eating habits and nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy hair (such as biotin, iron, and zinc), can accelerate hair loss.

Some drugs, such as those prescribed for depression, hypertension, and cancer, can also cause hair loss as a side effect, which could make male pattern baldness worse. It’s important to note that while these non-genetic factors can contribute to male pattern baldness, they do not cause the condition on their own. Instead, they often exacerbate hair loss in individuals who are genetically predisposed to it. 

Can you reverse male pattern baldness naturally?

Although there are no 100% effective natural treatments for AGA, several strategies might be helping to reduce hair loss and support healthy hair. While these natural approaches may complement a comprehensive hair care routine, they are unlikely to fully reverse male pattern baldness, especially in advanced stages. 

Healthy hair can be supported by eating a balanced diet that is high in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Beneficial nutrients include biotin, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, maintaining hydration and controlling stress can lessen hair loss.

(Other) hair care regimens could be beneficial as well. Regular scalp massage may increase blood flow to the hair follicles and may encourage hair growth. Avoid using excessive heat styling equipment, harsh hair products, and tight hairstyles because these things can harm hair and make hair loss worse.

Superfoods are also said to help with hair loss. Aloe vera, onion juice, and essential oils like peppermint and rosemary have all been investigated for their potential to encourage hair growth. Their effectiveness is still being studied.

Can you prevent male pattern baldness?

To a limited extent, certain tactics and lifestyle modifications may help postpone or lessen the onset and severity of male pattern baldness. A balanced diet full of vital minerals, such as biotin, iron, and zinc, helps support healthy hair. A healthy body weight and being hydrated can both be helpful.

Hair loss can also be significantly influenced by ongoing stress. Its effects could be lessened by practicing stress-reduction exercises like yoga, meditation, or regular exercise. Avoid using harsh hair products, tight hairstyles, and excessive heat styling because they can harm hair and cause hair loss.

The FDA has approved prescription drugs including finasteride and minoxidil for the treatment of male pattern baldness. In certain people, they might help decrease hair loss and encourage regrowth. When medical therapies like minoxidil or finasteride are started as soon as hair loss symptoms are identified, hair preservation may be improved.

Is male pattern baldness genetic?

AGA is primarily inherited from one’s parents and can be passed down through generations. Genetic predisposition to male pattern baldness is influenced by a combination of multiple genes, making it a complex trait.

From which parent is it inherited?

Male pattern baldness is primarily inherited through genetic factors that can be passed down from both parents, but the inheritance pattern is more complex than a simple “from one parent” scenario. While the genes responsible for male pattern baldness can be inherited from either parent, research suggests that the condition may be influenced by multiple genetic factors from both maternal and paternal sides of the family.

The androgen receptor gene (AR) located on the X chromosome plays a significant role in male pattern baldness. Sons inherit one X chromosome from their mother and one Y chromosome from their father. 

If a mother carries genetic variations associated with male pattern baldness on one of her X chromosomes, she can pass that predisposition on to her son. However, this doesn’t mean that the father’s genes are irrelevant; they also contribute to the son’s genetic makeup and can influence the likelihood and severity of male pattern baldness.

How can LifeDNA help you manage male pattern baldness?

In controlling some disorders, including AGA and hair loss, genetics is crucial. It even has an impact on how they develop in the first place. LifeDNA provides complete and detailed information about a variety of areas of your wellness, including how they relate to your genetic makeup. Want to learn more about your potential state of wellness? Try LifeDNA now. 

What are the different treatment options for male pattern baldness?

Several treatments can lessen hair loss and, in certain situations, encourage hair regrowth. The efficacy and methodology of these treatments differ. Numerous drugs are either available over-the-counter or require a doctor’s prescription. 

Minoxidil is an OTC topical medicine with FDA approval that comes in different formulations (liquid, foam). It has been demonstrated to encourage hair regrowth and reduce hair loss in many people when administered straight to the scalp. Oral prescription drug finasteride blocks the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the cause of the hair follicles shrinking in men with male pattern baldness. For many men, it works well at slowing hair loss and even encouraging regrowth.

Additional therapies for AGA include low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes that are used in Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)  such as laser combs and helmets to stimulate hair follicles and encourage hair growth. Even though results can vary, some people benefit from LLLT.

In a more invasive treatment regimen, a small amount of the patient’s blood is drawn, processed to concentrate the platelets, and then used to create platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is subsequently injected into the scalp. It is assumed that it will activate hair follicles and encourage hair growth. Lastly, hair follicles from donor areas (usually the back or sides of the head) can be transplanted to balding or thinning areas during hair transplant surgery operations. This can be a durable remedy for regrowing hair in particular scalp areas.

Can male pattern baldness be cured with gene editing?

While gene editing has not been established as a cure for male pattern baldness or AGA, and its use for hair loss is still in the experimental and research phase, gene editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 have shown promise in various other medical applications.  

The androgen receptor gene and other genes involved in the development of the disorder, like the SRD5A2 gene, might be modified specifically using CRISPR-Cas9. These modifications could include additions, deletions, and tweaks.

With the aid of a guide RNA, the Cas9 enzyme in CRISPR-Cas9 functions as “molecular scissors” to cut DNA at a precise spot. Using standard protein-carrier methods, it is difficult to properly transport Cas9 to the dermal papilla cells in the hair follicle in cases of androgenic alopecia.

To overcome this problem, scientists have created a microbubble-based carrier system that uses ultrasound to deliver Cas9 complexed with single-carrier RNA to the hair follicle. In an animal model, topical treatment of the nanoparticle system was demonstrated to increase hair growth. As a first step toward establishing the technique as a standard, these results, which were announced in 2020, are encouraging. 

The various genetic causes of male pattern baldness are still being investigated by researchers, and there is interest in creating novel therapies based on a deeper knowledge of the genes playing a role in this condition. It is to be noted that the use of gene editing for cosmetic objectives, such as hair regeneration, will be subject to ethical, safety, and regulatory concerns.

Summary

  • Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), another name for male pattern baldness, is a specific type of hair loss. This genetic condition is characterized by thinning and persistent hair loss. 
  • This disease is associated with the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can shrink hair follicles and lead them to produce shorter and finer hair.
  • Male pattern baldness often starts with receding hairlines at the temples and thinning hair on top of the head. 
  • Male pattern baldness can start at various ages, and the genetic, hormonal, and individual factors that influence it can affect the timing
  • Family history of this condition is one of the most important predictors of male pattern baldness risk. 
  • Although hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors can also affect how the condition presents itself, male pattern baldness is largely inherited. 
  • Even though there are currently no natural AGA therapies that are 100% successful, several methods may be attempted to slow hair loss and promote healthy hair. 
  • Researchers are still looking into the many genetic factors that contribute to male pattern baldness, and there is interest in developing new treatments based on a better understanding of these genes involved.

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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.

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