Biological Roots of Hair Loss

Genetics include dozens of studies to be able to investigate contributions of innate factors to our existing dispositions, vulnerabilities, proneness to stress, behavioral psychology, cognitive capabilities, etc. Several links have been discovered from these studies and conclusions displayed a considerable role of congenital impacts on the human body.

Like most of the characteristics of the physical appearance of us, our hair characteristics comes from our parents, therefore it is the result of specific genes. Several human disorders or diseases have a hereditary component, too.

Hair shedding problems are one of them that the outcome strongly depends on innate susceptibility. Alopecia problems run in the families. It is likely to develop these diseases when our parents have specific genes that contribute to this problem.

However, drawing a conclusion from this point of view would result in a biased perspective. Hair characteristics most often result from genotypical structures, but phenotypical agents should not be underestimated.

Thus, neither a person who has the specific genotype will develop the eventual outcome of hair diseases or problems nor a person who did not have such a familial vulnerability will never ever develop hair problems.

Therefore, precautions should always be adapted and the alterations at the conditions of our lives could be considered to be able to assume a responsibility in the current problems of the hair structure.

Hair structure strongly has hereditary and environmental characteristics. Hair structure involves the thickness, color, growth cycle characteristics, strength and shape of our hair.

There are several deterministic factors of those structures in terms of the interaction between the internal and external factors on the outcome. Among these factors, environmental alterations and factors are the most possible factor that can be controlled and manipulated.

There is a great deal of effort of molecular genetics to be able to discover and increase the knowledge about hair shedding because it possesses a great percentage of people’s good-looking qualities and therefore confidence. It does not threaten the state of health, but it is a very distressing and psychologically and socially disturbing experience for people.

There are recent discoveries on the genetics part of the alopecia that sheds a light to the treatment and irreversibility of hair fall. At the strongest inborn features side, there are specific differentiable genes found out in terms of male and female pattern hair loss which attached to the corresponding X or Y chromosomes of the body.

Recent studies also focus on the aging factor, but the environmental forces are holding more responsible for this issue because of the body’s decreasing ability to fight with the free radicals as the chronological age increases.

Specific Hair Loss Disorders and Their Genetic Ingredients

There are rare and common hair fall conditions that strongly determined by genotypical elements. These conditions are handled and examined under specific category because of the development course, indications, irreversibility and diffusiveness from mild to all throughout the body. In addition to that, these specific syndromes specific genes may be depending on the sex of the patient as well. Among rare ones, it is very hard to list them at once because there are very specific components, and little is known about them. However, there are some common features of some hair loss syndromes that generally initiates from childhood:

  • They are generally seen at particular areas because of the strong heritable contributions so that’s why there are some ethnic groups which represent them more.

  • Diffusiveness of the loss situation is not homogenously distributed throughout the body unless the subject matter is a situation that there is a total lack of hair in the body.

  • Some of them cause an alopecia state that makes the treatment impossible, unfortunately. The mutations that affect hair growth makes no possible changes on the scalp.

  • Sometimes these conditions result from a specific gene but often they result from a defective state that intervenes with the biology of hair and transmitted through parents.

  • At the list of these disorders, few of them could be seen with an intellectual disability because of a biological reason.

  • Among these diseases, some of the particular inborn defects that cause the particular outcome can affect the facial hairs as well at times.

  • Color of the hair and skin can also be impacted by the contributors of the diseases.

  • Even though there is not total baldness, there are other physiological disturbances on the hair structure that can be noticed and differentiates from other people that have a healthy scalp and hair.

  • Occasionally, these conditions correlate with other skin issues that make people worry about and considering the dermatological aspects. For example, in some conditions, they make it easier for inflammation to occur.

  • Keratin could be affected in terms of disturbances and scarcity which have an overall effect in the body.

  • Their genetic links could create different phenotypical features for different sexes.

  • They can bring about other correlates in terms of other illnesses and diseases, so it could be a harmful factor for the state of health.

  • They can co-occur with other internal physiological problems in the body. For example, some of them can be seen with internal organ deficits and structural irregularities in the systems of the body.

  • Some of them initiate from childhood whereas others can be started from adolescents.

  • Most often, their prognosis lasts through life-span.

  • The eye is a specific organ that can be affected together with these disorders, so vision problems could be included as a co-occurred factor as well.

Although it seems that these diseases have a lot in common there are lots of them which have very distinguishable features and biological infrastructures that more precisely differentiate them. The investigation conducted on these diseases provides insight for common hair shedding diseases as well because of extreme effort and rigorous research increase the knowledge about the physiology of the hair and what determines its physical characteristics and state of health and interrelationship between environmental influences.

Androgenetic Alopecia and Its Biology

Androgenetic Alopecia is the most frequently reported hereditary-based hair disorder which is characterized by the weakening of the hair follicles. There are different paths for the occurrence of bald areas in this medical condition. It is typically seen more in men as demographics showed.

The activities of scalp differentiate in different regions so that in various forms of this disease the profile of bald areas could be different. Treatment and reversion episodes and possibility depend on the specific cases of the disease.

There is a strong hereditary for this condition of hair. Androgen hormone and its movements in the scalp plays a significant role for the progression of this disease and the defect in its roles result in lack of hair in the particular area of the scalp and weakening of the existing ones.
At the environmental side of this disease, infection is found to be related to the damage to the hair in the scalp.

Disturbances in the growth period of hair follicles are the part of the process of hair fall in androgenetic alopecia. All the cells and their activity are largely affected by this situation and there became a reduction in the typical healthy period for hair.

For all of these operations in the typical cycle for cells located in the scalp, there is a specific gene that is responsible for their normal course of conduct. Not only at the cell level but also there is a role of muscles in these operations as a surface level necessity.

Although it is hard to define a certain gene that can be labeled as a cause of a particular disease, there are some consistent findings that vote for the two of them both of them are associated with androgen hormones.

From the overall picture of the inborn relation of androgenetic alopecia, there are lots of genes and DNA alterations found in these patients which draws a conclusion that there is not a single path to this outcome, but multiple relations exist between the heritable components and alopecia.

These molecular genetics findings generate a great chance and hope for the treatment of the disease. Since there are complex deterministic factors, there needs to be much more research for the exact treatment.
However, the existing ones summons the specific activities and the role of sex, hormone, and other biological correlates.

Activities and Structure of Hair and Genetics

Likewise, any other parts of our body, our hair, and its activity level adapt and changes over time and in response to situations our body going through. It is important to be sensitive about the needs of the hair as part of our self-care. For a good-looking hair considering behaviors that might cause the alterations that our hair going through is a wise step to take.

There is not an ultimate state of hair and its structure so with increasing age, changing environmental conditions, switch of health status and stress, there could be changing needs of our hair.

When the characteristics of hair examined in the molecular level, there are lots of differentiating factors found to be responsible for the length, thickness, and shape of the hair. Protein processes of the genotypical components that lie in the hair follicle cause the specific phenotype of the hair which also have a role in the particular ethnic variety in the hair form.

As the age increases, eventual outcomes of greying occur but there are some determining factors of the prognosis, starting age and the diffusiveness of it. Although general schema for hair graying is similar across sexes, ethnicities and other variables, there are some considerable heritable influences.

For instance, the starting age found to be based on a familial factor. Also, sex is a differentiating factor for the diffusiveness of the graying area. Heritable attribution to hair grey is more reasonable at the early aging cases.

There are genes that are thought to constitute the reason for baldness. More recently, some studies demonstrated that there are also genes that generate a protective factor against the hair shedding. These genes work on the principle of testosterone in hair loss as male type.

This type originates because of the dysfunctionality of testosterone hormone which damage to the hair follicles and growth cycle. There are two opposite genes for testosterone to be operated in the body functionally or not.

This form of hair shedding does not affect only men. It also causes baldness in women. In fact, some researchers suggest that if the problem is seen at the front part of the scalp then the reason could be attributed to the male-type which possesses a powerful heritable ingredient.

Genetically Based Hair Loss Disorders

At last few years, dozens of the study conducted to examine the hair and its structure from an organic level. Technological advances enhanced the developments, tools, and methods about the investigations of the organism of hair under the scope of many topics.

Family history with hair loss and its part in the possibility of making a person have this problem is demonstrated. In fact, it is found out by scientist that there is more than a hundred genetic component that forms the mechanism and structure of the hair.

Most of the hair disorders causes are attributed to genetic dispositions. There are consistency and a considerable percentage of a hereditary part to the hair shedding problems in people especially under specific symptoms like having the problem mostly at frontal parts and having the problem under certain circumstances. There are also other diseases which are hereditary and relatively rare and causes significant baldness in the scalp either totally or partially.

Although there are lots of them, I tried to provide an insight to you to look at some of the genetically transmitted hair loss diseases. The provided information is just a sum of the articles I read so there are lots of scientific investigations, results, developments, and brand-new findings related to these diseases. That is why the facts about them can change.

Netherton Syndrome

This disease causes serious dermatological problems. All skin is affected, and its symptoms can be seen from birth. Skin becomes very fragile so that it can easily get inflamed. The indications may occur periodically like causing a need to scratch, erythema, etc. Like the other parts of the skin, the hair structure is very vulnerable and easy to shed.

Hair of these patients looked thin, pale and sluggish from the outside. It is very unhealthy inside, too. Like all surface of the body, the hair also prone to a variety of dangers causing a huge amount of loss. This makes the disease even more stressful. Also, all of these signs make the patient irritable because of pain and distressing experiences.

All of these circumstances can be experienced through growth and there are no stable terms for this unwanted occurrence of the results. This disorder has other correlates with other diseases because not only surface but also the immune system of the patients defected as well.

The prevalence rate of this disease is relatively low like 5 times in a million. The main reason for a person to have this disorder is proved to be the gene defect. If the familial two genes have the specific mutation than the possibility is highly likely.

Treatment of this disease includes a special application. There is no medication to inhibit the process of degeneration or prompting a regeneration of impacted areas. From now, impacts on the hair seemed reversible for these patients.

Menkes Syndrome

Menkes syndrome is an inherited disease that the mutated gene is linked to the X chromosome. It impacts the whole body. It affects the various systems like the nervous system causing nerve damages. In addition to that, it has a diverse impact on the locomotor system but its most salient effect can be seen on the skin, particularly in hair. It is generally seen from infancy.

The prevalence rate of this syndrome seems to be rare since it can be seen in 10 times in a million. Since the mutated gene replaces on the X chromosome, both of the X chromosomes for females should have the gene for developing this syndrome but it is enough for males to have one in their single X chromosome.

The levels of copper are primarily decreased which has a force for the cell to work properly and it causes damage for cells to throw away toxic materials. Also, this makes various cycles of the body have trouble.

One of the visible characteristics of this disease occurs on the hair. There are hair shedding problems as well as some unbalanced color distributions. Other issues reported about hair are weakness, thinness, and paleness.

Marie Unna Hypotrichosis

This disorder is also not frequently seen in worldwide. The symptoms of this disease generally initiated from childhood. An observable amount of hair loss could be seen in the scalp. Hair looks matted and unhealthy. Also, it gradually thins over time. Eyebrows and eyelashes can be impacted as well. This feature could be seen through the lifespan.

There are lots of mutations discovered in patients with this syndrome. Hair cycling seems abnormal and defected. Also, hair volume, color, structure, caliber, and development occur in an atypical way. Hair defects are more salient in men. Unfortunately, there is not an existing treatment for now for this disease.

This disease extremely rare as there are only a couple of reported cases. It generally can be seen in families. There are other complex signs that seem to be related with the mutations in the gene but since there is a very low population that is counted for this condition there is not much information about the incidences and underlying core symptoms.

Uncombable Hair Syndrome

Uncombable hair syndrome is another rarely seen disease that is inherited from parents. It initiates from childhood with pigmentation problems in hair. There are fluctuations in the course of the disease correspondingly to the developmental stages. A number of genes that are responsible for the hair structure are suffered from the mutation.

There are molecular disturbances of hair which could be detected and help with the diagnosis. These impairments in the molecular level make the appearance of hair have some specific features related to the defect. This disease does not have an exact treatment, too. However, there are extra aids that could be applied to the health of hair cycling.

Hair looks in-flight in this condition. The texture of the hair is somewhat not more vulnerable than healthy condition. This disease relatively milder than the other ones in terms of both symptoms and treatment.  In fact, the indications generally fade away through the development.

Related Questions

Is Hair Inherited from Mother or Father?

Skin and hair vary across the melanin polymers in terms of kinds, quantity and the linkages between other molecules which are all inherited. Colors, shapes, and characteristics of skin and hair is actually a tangled process of transgenic. Specific genes are found to carry the codes for the outcome. Qualities of the existing phenotypes are leaded from these genes.

These principles do not lay behind the sex of the gene’s carrier. We do not get our hair color or shape mostly from our mother or father. The recessive or dominant principle, as well as the alleles, concludes the characteristics of hair.

There are some situations that some specific features are linked to the X chromosomes. Even in those situations, we do not simply take our gene from our mother. Males have an X chromosome, too. There are possibilities and contributions of both parties so there is no single parent’s contribution to this.

Inheritance principle based on the recessive-dominant dyad relationship applies to skin, hair and eye color of the body. These colors are determined by the melatonin and its genetic ingredients as an act to cultivate on the phenotype.

Melanocytes accumulate on pigmentations so that the texture of our hair is formed. Not only structure or shape but also vulnerabilities and protective processes are determined through these operations.

Melanin is actually stemming from two colors that their density, amount or their lack generates the conditions for the specific hair color to occur. However, melanin is not the only responsible agent for this result. Tiny molecules within the melanin and their responsiveness to the environmental condition also conclude the texture of hair.

Not only hereditary factors but also environmental factor have a contribution to the fluctuations and alterations in the colors of the body. For instance, you might hear from people that “ I used to be blond in my childhood.” This is actually true that some of the people’s melanin production and their involvement change over time and across different environmental changes. For instance, development and exposure to the sun lead to discrepancies between different colors in our body.

Thus, we may conclude that our hair and skin color are end-product of our activities of melanin which is genetically transmitted. What about the melanin differentiation? What finalizes melanin? The answer lies under the scope of evolution. Melanin act as an important shield against the sun. This principle makes its distribution different across climates.

Can You Stop Hereditary Hair Loss?

To answer this question it should be clarified initially that there are a number of different genetically based hair loss diseases which are classified differently among different specialists. Some of them mostly related to general epidemical problems whereas other ones only apply to scalp.

As I wrote about it above, there are a number of very rare hair loss diseases and I list their common features as well. From a general perspective, there is no exact treatment for these disorders since they often start from childhood and some progressively extinguish hair follicles.

There are some articles that individually examined a patient and apply some techniques like hair transplant or other treatment methods in a detailed way. However, those are individual cases and are not very generalizable to the whole population. Since these cases are rare it is not very possible to have an extended or crowded population to study on the issue.

In addition to that, most of the time state of the hair and skin is dependable on other conditions and they demonstrate waving in their stand. Not only for a whole population but also for the individual him or herself, it cannot be ascertained about.

In some situations, inherited hair loss leads to a specific molecular structure of hair which makes them vulnerable to many exposures so that it is very hard to maintain a steady state and health of the hair. For instance, sometimes the hair cycle becomes very irregular and anagen phase which is the activating growth phase shortens or even become lack. In that case, it would be very discouraging to trial for reversal.

Consequently, in rare genetic conditions that cause serious damages to the scalp and skin, it is not reasonable or possible to say that their effects to hair are reversible or the techniques that are applied to the other hair loss conditions can be effective in those circumstances as well. There are some attempts and individual results so counseling a doctor may lead to having the advances or trials for any development.

Apart from rare genetic terms, there are also common and less serious inherited hair shedding disorders as well. Mostly they are known as male-pattern and female-pattern baldness.

Their reversibility is much more promising than the others since medications, dietary plans, anti-oxidant applications are much more fruitful. In addition to that, if there is no serious harm or inflammation in the scalp, hair transplant is also an option to solve the problem.

What Are the Early Signs of Balding?

Symptoms of balding could require different methods to detect and most of them are found out with medical procedures such as biopsy. There are of course visible indicators that can be noticed by the patient him or herself but for early detection and better outcome of the treatment, a medical operation and consultation should be followed.

I tried to list the early signs including both the noticeable symptoms and  the symptoms that require medical investigation:

  • Detectable openness at the hair follicles

  • An irregular different pattern of hair calibers that are mostly thinner than typical

  • Black spots and short hairs that could be observed in the scalp

  • Inflammations at the hair follicles

  • Keratin blockages in the hair roots.

  • Scalp problems involving pain, varicose, and dropsy

  • Hair thinning that could be distinguishable by the patient.

  • Higher levels of testosterone in females.

  • Brown and yellow like spots in the scalp indicating a pathological hair loss.

  • Lower levels of iron in the blood.

Some of these signs are specific to some hair shedding diseases and they can only be diagnosed by a specialist so if you have a history of hair loss problem around the adolescence period of your life, or if your parents have baldness problems it is better to check frequently for these indicators and consulting a doctor for a prevention for the baldness.

Is Balding Inherited from Mother or Father?

Biological genetics is a complex phenomenon that lots of models try to explain the underlying reasons, possibility, and role of the parental genes in determining the phenotypical, behavioral dispositions in the human body.

Different approaches exist to explain the hereditary variabilities and continuities of specific traits that we get from our families. Popular views sometimes exaggerate the causality of the genes to supply a definitive answer generally it is not reasonable to attribute a single gene or DNA for a feature in humans.

Our appearance looks like our parents most of the time because we share a similar genetic pool but even twins have differences between themselves because there are dozens of genes involved in the process of our physiology. Like most of the other things, heritable baldness cannot be attributable totally to the baldness.

A predisposition may exist, but like every vulnerability does not develop to the worse outcome, every worse outcome also does not totally depend on the genes.

Since we get our X chromosomes from our mothers, male pattern and female pattern baldness may strongly link to the mother’s genes but it increases possibility. It does not definitely cause the outcome. Likewise, if there are more relatives with the problem, the possibility of developing baldness increases as well.

So, balding does nor inherited only from mother or father. It only enhances the chance of getting the problem from the chromosomal relation about the sexes.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a hair loss expert. The picture was taken 10 years ago :) I have been losing my hair. So I started to learn everything about hair loss and hair transplants. I contacted a lot of hair transplant doctors. We shared our experiences. I'm writing blog posts for people who have the potential of losing their hair. I give some tips about hair transplants and medical issues too.

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