HONG KONG (Reuters) - Researchers in Japan have identified a gene that appears to determine cyclical hair loss in mice and believe it may also be responsible for hair loss, or alopecia, in people.
In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists described how they generated a line of mice that were lacking in the Sox21 gene.
"The mice started to lose their fur from postnatal day 11, beginning at the head and progressing toward the tail region of the back," they wrote.
"Between day 20 and day 25, these mice eventually lost all of their body hair, including the whiskers. Intriguingly, new hair regrowth was initiated a few days later but was followed by renewed hair loss."
The cyclical alopecia continued for more than two years and the researchers observed that the mutant mice had enlarged oil-secreting sebaceous glands around the hair follicle and a thickened layer of skin cells during periods of hair loss.
The normal cycling of hair follicles through their resting and growing phases causes a shed of approxmately 100-200 hairs from the scalp per day. However, hair follicle cycling problems in humans may cause a condition such as telogen effluvium (severe, synchronized shedding) which, to date, has no truly effective treatment. Telogen effluvium is more common in women and may or may not occur in conjunction with ‘traditional’ hereditary female pattern hair loss--where hair density and hair caliber is normally lost progressively over time in a specific pattern. An 'effluvium,' or shed, may be noticeable during different times of the year or even various times of the month as well as a consequence of crash diets, high-stress, hormone imbalance, childbirth, menopause, etc. Severe shedding can cause significant concern for those worried about hair loss as hair volume may change dramatically as well as scalp coverage.
Genetic hair loss testing is available for men and women to determine their risk for developing the condition, by looking at the well-documented association between the Androgen Receptor Genes or ‘CAG repeat’ scores and the development of hereditary male or female pattern hair loss. Evaluation by a board-certified hair restoration physician is recommended for those who are experiencing severe shedding, decreasing coverage of their scalp, decreasing hair volume, receding hairlines or widening part-lines.
Diagnostic evaluations, such as microscopic hair density and hair caliber analysis, genetic testing and counseling can be performed. Treatments, based on the diagnosis, can then be initiated.
Medical treatments, like minoxidil (Rogaine), laser therapy, nutritional modification, other medications and even hair transplantation can be used to treat hair loss successfully.
For more information on hair loss (a medically-treatable condition), please visit www.baumanmedical.com