the X factor in hair loss
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The X factor in hair loss

Ever wondered whether or not you’ll go bald later in life? Find a photo – of your maternal grandfather! A new study by German scientists suggests that a mother’s X-chromosome deserves most of the blame for a son’s receding hairline.

We have long suspected that baldness was hereditary, but until now no specific genetic culprit had been identified. Axel Hillmer, a researcher with the Life & Brain Center team that conducted the study, explained two indicators that implicate the X-chromosome. Androgen receptors, which are produced by a gene on the X-chromosome, were found in affected men either in higher concentrations or in a more stable genetic variant that resisted breakdown. In both situations, the heightened effect of the androgen receptors resulted in hair loss.

The study, led by Professor Nöthen, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Chair of Genetic Medicine at Bonn University and Dr. Roland Kruse of the Skin Clinic at Düsseldorf University Clinic, examined blood samples from affected men and their family members.

The American Journal of Human Genetics will publish the findings of this study in their July 2005 edition. Reluctant to lay all the responsibility for hair loss on one gene, however, scientists continue to study patterns of hereditary baldness. Some evidence indicates that other genes might enable the passing of the hair loss characteristic from parent to offspring irrespective of the sex of the parent carrying the gene.

The research team is seeking more volunteers in order to reconfirm and enhance their findings. If you are 40 years of age with a severe hair loss problem and some free time, a trip to Germany might be in order – Dr. Kruse and his team will pay you and your family members for blood samples to help root out the cause of baldness!

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