Blame granddad, your mother’s father. If he’s bald then the likelihood is that you will also experience a similar form of hair loss.
Male pattern baldness, the most common form of hair loss in men, is related to male sex hormones. One form of MPB, androgenic alopecia, has been traced to genetic variations that sit on the x chromosome handed down to men by their mother. Markus Nöthen, a genomics professor at Germany’s University of Bonn, led the research. His team studied 95 families in which at least two brothers had premature male pattern hair loss. The group included about 200 affected men.
Genetic screening showed that the “cardinal prerequisite” for premature male pattern baldness was a variation in the androgen receptor gene. The gene variant was found “very much more often” among prematurely bald men than among men who still had a full head of hair after age 60.
Granddad’s influence has long been thought relevant, with hair loss thought to skip a generation. Instead the data stresses the relative importance of the maternal line in the inheritance of MPB.
The result of this is that the resemblance should be greater between affected males and their maternal grandfathers than between affected males and their fathers. The ‘skipped generation’ theory is therefore misleading. It’s not your dad’s hairline you should worry about – it’s the men on your mum’s side of the family who’ll provide a better guide to your future prospects of hair retention.
It was found that the genetic variant results in more androgen receptors in the scalp. “Our findings permit two explanations,” Axel Hillmer from Prof. Nöthen’s team explains. “Either more androgen receptors are formed among the men affected, or the variant of the receptor which develops as a result of the genetic change is more stable and is not broken down so quickly. Both mechanisms can lead to the effect of the androgens becoming greater, which in turn brings about hair loss.”