How Genetics Plays a Role in Balding: “The Baldness Gene”

Ismail Yusibov
Ismail Yusibov is the founder and content writer of the AlopeciaTips.

 Fact checked by Jessica Anderson

Written by Ismail Yusibov | Reviewed by Dr. Michael Carter



QUICK INFORMATION

Hair loss can happen because of stuff like not eating well, lacking vitamins, being not so healthy, or taking certain medicines. But, the genes you inherit from your family also have a say in making your hair fall out. So, it’s not just about how you treat your hair, but also about what you get from your parents.

Genetics play a big role in determining how much hair loss you’ll see as you get older.

Scientific studies have identified several genes associated with male pattern baldness. Although the role of genes in female pattern baldness is less understood, it is known that female pattern baldness also occurs due to hormonal and genetic changes.

Hair loss caused by genetic reasons is irreversible, but it can be treated and its development can be stopped.

What is the balding gene?

Male pattern baldness is often linked to genes. While we don’t have a definite study on the genes responsible for it, some research sheds light on the subject.

The genes behind male pattern baldness remain a bit mysterious. Yet, studies suggest that variations in EDA2R and WNT10A genes can contribute to hair loss.

Currently, three gene types associated with hair loss are known: HEPH, CEPT1, and EIF3F.

Sabrina Henne, the researcher who pinpointed the balding gene, notes that WNT10A and EDA2R genes play a role in regulating the hair growth cycle. The other genes—HEPH, CEPT1, and EIF3F—impact hair growth through processes involving iron and phospholipids.

EIF3F, in particular, is directly linked to depigmentation, a factor in male pattern baldness.

Henne explains that as affected hair follicles shrink, it leads to thinner and lighter hairs. This sheds light on how genes can influence the gradual thinning of hair in male pattern baldness.

Male pattern baldness and genetic relationship

Male pattern baldness often runs in families, passed down from either parent. This is no myth – a whopping 80% of cases worldwide stem from genetic factors. While the scientific community hasn’t definitively nailed down the specifics, it’s clear that multiple genes contribute to this hair-raising issue.

Enter the culprit: a gene called AR, residing on the “X” chromosome. This gene reacts to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent testosterone form, plays a crucial role in the health and growth of hair follicles.

A study involving 12,806 men of European descent revealed that those with the AR gene faced double the risk of male pattern baldness (MPB) compared to their gene-free counterparts. It’s a significant player in the hair loss game.

If you’re wondering which side of the family gifted you the baldness gene, it’s a mixed bag. Both parents contribute to the genetic makeup that may lead to male pattern baldness. While it’s not crystal clear whether mom or dad is the main culprit, it’s safe to say that the likelihood of going bald involves input from both.

The myth that baldness comes from the mother gains some scientific weight from a 2005 study at the University of Bonn in Germany. Still, complete clarity on this genetic puzzle remains elusive.

Here’s a twist: the baldness gene doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. It can skip generations or even skip individuals within the same generation. So, if your dad sports a full mane but your maternal uncle is a size 5 on the Norwood Scale at 35, you might just find yourself on the same balding journey as your uncle.

AR gene is not the only gene that causes hair loss

Hair loss is caused by more than just the AR gene. While many think the AR gene is the main culprit, it’s just one of many genes playing a significant role.

According to Adriana Heguy, a Professor of Pathology and Director of the NYUMC Genome Technology Center, all our genes influence hair loss to some extent. It’s not solely about the AR gene; it’s a collective effort of various genes in our body.

“There are genes in basically all chromosomes that have been implicated in androgenetic alopecia, and this is what makes it so difficult to unravel, as we would have to examine the overall contribution that each gene variant (single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP) play in hair loss, and also how these genes interact with each other and the environment to result in the phenotype.”

Does male baldness really derive from his mother’s father or are there other factors involved?

The chance of going bald, like your mom’s dad, isn’t as straightforward as people might think. We each have two sets of genetic instructions, known as X and Y chromosomes. Guys get one X and one Y, while gals get two X’s. The baldness gene is a bit shy and hangs out on the Y chromosome, which guys inherit from their dads.

If your grandpa on your mom’s side sported the bald look, there’s a 50-50 shot your mom passed on the baldness map. That gives you a 75% chance of joining the bald squad. But, if grandpa had a full head of hair, you’ve got a 75% shot at keeping your hair game strong.

Remember, this is the basic rundown. Everyone’s genetics are like a unique mixtape, so results can vary. Baldness is a bit more complicated than just looking at Grandpa’s head.

Is there a permanent cure for genetic baldness?

Genetic hair loss can’t be fixed, but there are two FDA-approved treatments that help slow it down. The FDA has given the green light to only two products for boosting hair growth and dealing with different types of hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil.

These products come in medication form and can be used on the skin or taken by mouth. They work well in treating hair loss. Still, it’s important to know that they’re not a forever fix. Once you stop using them, hair loss starts up again.

Ways to slow down hair loss

If you’re dealing with hair loss due to genes, it’s pretty much a one-way street. But hey, there are ways to put on the brakes.

  • Healthy lifestyle habits matter: Give your hair some love by getting good sleep, eating right, keeping stress low, and throwing in a bit of exercise. It’s like a VIP treatment for your hair, slowing down the loss game.
  • Meds can help: There are medicines like minoxidil or finasteride that actually work against hair loss. Pop one of these, and you might just slow down that receding hairline.
  • Vitamins to the rescue: If your hair is saying, “I need more vitamins,” listen up. Vitamin D, vitamin C, or Biotin supplements could be the superheroes your hair needs to stay put.
  • Hair transplants – Maybe: If your hair’s playing hide and seek, and it’s messing with your confidence, there’s a thing called hair transplantation. It won’t magically fix everything, but it can definitely boost your look and keep you rocking the natural hair game for years.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Hair loss is largely influenced by genetics, affecting both men and women.

In men, the AR gene on the X chromosome, alongside other genes like EDA2R and WNT10A, plays a significant role in male pattern baldness.

The AR gene is sensitive to the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone.

FDA-approved treatments, such as finasteride and minoxidil, can help slow down genetic hair loss.

However, these treatments are not permanent solutions, and stopping their use may lead to a resumption of hair loss.
Ismail YusibovIsmail Yusibov is the founder and content writer of the AlopeciaTips.

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