Male Pattern Baldness Possibly Caused by Stem Cell Inactivation

New research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has found that faulty stem cells may play a role in male pattern baldness.

The study led by George Cotsarelis., chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, examined stem cell samples from men who have undergone hair transplant surgery. Cotsarelis’ team compared the follicles from the thinning areas of the participant’s scalps to the DHT resistant hair bearing areas, and what they learned might hold the key to finding a more straightforward approach to prevent or reverse androgenetic alopecia.

The study revealed that men with male pattern baldness have an equal amount of stem cells in both the hair bearing areas and the balding areas of the scalp, with one very important difference: the areas of the balding scalp had a significantly lower number of progenitor cells.

In developmental biology, cellular differentiation is the process by which a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type. This finding suggests that stem cells in the parts of the scalp with miniaturized hair have somehow malfunctioned, losing their ability to convert or differentiate into progenitor cells. { Learn More About Progenitor Cells }

Cotsarelis and his team theorize that balding may be triggered by a problem with stem cell activation, rather than by the actual number of stem cells in hair follicles. Targeting the activation of these stem cells to differentiate is now thought to be, by some, a more efficient and effective way to treat androgenic alopecia in the future.

IAHRS accepted member Bessam Farjo, M.D. discusses this finding on the BBC.
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