Scientists have identified a new gene that may help future hair transplant surgeons provide non-hormonal treatments for hair loss. The discovery is a culmination of efforts from research teams across America, including those from Columbia University, Rockefeller University, and Stanford. Researchers have named the gene adenomatosis polyposis down-regulated 1, or APCDD1.
The discovery of the APCDD1 gene is important to researchers, surgeons, and individuals who suffer with a variety of hair loss conditions. The gene seems to play a role in the progressive hair loss experienced by individuals with hereditary hypotrichosis simplex, a rare condition that may manifest itself in the early years of childhood.
Commenting on the study, lead author Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D. explains:
Through their analysis the research team found a common mutation in the APCDD1 gene that is located on a specific region of chromosome 18. Previous studies have shown chromosome 18 to be involved in other forms of hair loss including alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. (i)
Dr. Christiano is a professor of dermatology, as well as genetics and development, at the Columbia University Medical Center. For additional information, readers may visit Dr. Christiano’s faculty page on Columbia.edu.
Although the gene seems to play a causal role in a very different type of hair loss, researchers believe studying the APCDD1 gene may eventually aid in the treatment of male and female pattern baldness, as well as other types of hair loss. This is due to the fact that APCDD1 causes hair loss through a process called hair miniaturization, which is the same process through which male pattern baldness progresses.
APCDD1, Hair Miniaturization, and Hair Loss Treatment
To understand the concept of hair miniaturization, it is helpful to first understand how hair grows. Throughout our lifetime, hair grows from follicles located just below the skin. Follicles are the foundation through which hair receives the support, oxygen, and nutrients to grow. Hair grows in three distinct cycles: The growth phase, the shedding phase, and the resting phase. Hair loss professionals may refer to each of these stages as the anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase, respectively. It is estimated that each strand of hair goes through a full cycle of growing, shedding, resting, and re-growing about 10-20 times over the course of a person’s lifetime.
Hair miniaturization is a phenomenon in which hair becomes thinner and finer each time it progresses through the growth cycle described above. Eventually, the hair follicle may even become dormant, in which case new hair growth will cease entirely.
In this study, researchers found that the gene APCDD1 inhibits a specific signaling pathway through which hair growth is directed. Researchers refer to the pathway as Wnt, and it is believed that inhibiting this signaling process may prevent hair miniaturization and pattern baldness from developing. Moreover, Dr. Christiano believes the discovery could make advanced hair loss treatment a reality for a much broader number of individuals:
Unlike commonly available treatments for hair loss that involve blocking hormonal pathways, treatments involving the Wnt pathway would be non-hormonal, which may enable many more people suffering from hair loss to receive such therapies. (ii)
Connect with the Hair Transplant Institute
Sources for this report include:
(i) Scientists Identify New Hair Loss Gene – APCDD1. Blog.americanhairloss.org. Accessed January 8, 2013.
(ii) See above.