Hold your horses, or at least your hair – there is new research on male pattern baldness. This research sheds some new light on hair growth mechanisms – Something that could pave the way for new treatments for male baldness.
The most widespread form of hair loss in men, is male pattern baldness. Also known as male alopecia. By the time men reach their 50’s, some studies have estimated that between 30 to 50 percent are affected by alopecia.
A research team from the University of California, set out to explore hair growth across the skin surface of the entire body. Their findings, may help us to understand and treat male baldness differently.
The researchers were Maksim Plikus, an assistant professor of developmental and cell biology, and Qing Nie, a professor of mathematics.
Maksim and Qing were able to map hair growth patterns across the entire skin by using a combination of mathematical modeling and biological data. Mathematical modeling turned out to be a valuable tool for understanding how hair follicles grow across the entire body.
Our new mathematical model predicted details of signaling communications between hairs. Which is otherwise difficult to reveal with standard biological experiments alone, says professor Nie.
Wnt and BMP signaling pathways
Maksim and Qing examined the Wnt proteins and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) signaling pathways. Which they did as one of their previous research showed that these play an important role in hair growth. Their previous studies showed that defects in either one of these pathways may disrupt hair growth patterns.
What good does Wnt proteins and BMPs do?
Wnt proteins regulate cell proliferation, at first during the development of embryos, and then in the growth and regeneration of other tissues. BMPs are also growth factors that drive development in the embryo but also plays an important role when it comes to the functioning of cells.
So what previous research showed was that these signaling pathways control hair growth across the body. But the new study shows that hair growth is a coordinated process. Which in other words means that different skin areas sort of communicate with each other.
How is this relevant you may ask…
Male pattern baldness tends to occur in the frontal and upper back, but not at the lower back. So this communication between different skin areas is thought to be interrupted, and it is believed that hair follicles are growing independently.
If the communication between nonbalding and balding regions can be reactivated, hair growth signals can then start spreading across the entire head skin. Which can help preventing regional baldness, says professor Plikus.