Until now, traditional male pattern baldness (hair loss) which affects eight out of ten males under the age of 70 has always been exclusively associated with excessive levels of dihydrotestosterone. However, a recent published study in the March 21st 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine Journal reveals that hair loss or androgenic alopecia may actually be linked with elevated levels of a substance known as prostaglandin D2. The results of this revolutionary study could give hope to millions afflicted with this condition worldwide.
Scientists from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, headed by Dr. George Cotsarelis, discovered that during normal follicle cycling prostaglandin D2 levels increase immediately preceding the regression phase suggesting its inhibitory effect on hair growth. In addition to this, males diagnosed with androgenic alopecia are also affected by abnormal levels of prostaglandin D2 which has a tendency to constantly accumulate in areas of androgenic baldness (when compared with scalp areas unaffected by hair loss).
Very high or permanently increased levels of prostaglandin D2 can lead to inflammation around hair follicles. The foregoing discovery sheds light on the phenomenon (observed in androgenic alopecia patients of both sexes) of the growth of cocoon or capsule-like fibrous (dense) connective tissue around hair follicles—the cause of the miniaturization of hair follicles and subsequent hair loss.
It should be noted however that it is still too early to dismiss dihydrotestosterone as a risk factor contributing to androgenic hair loss. Most likely, the interaction of both factors, i.e. excessive production of prostaglandin D2 in skin (which is a sole trigger contributing to hair loss in men) and presence of male androgens (that together with prostaglandin D2 result in female hair loss), lead to androgenic hair loss.
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