By Pol Allingham

New genes that could trigger baldness in men have been identified by scientists.

A study revealed that rare mutations in two genes could be contributing to hair loss.

Moreover, genes that are known to cause rare inherited skin and hair diseases could also influence pattern baldness.

The team at the University of Bonn, Germany, hopes their revelations, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help identify men at risk and boost treatment.

Until now, research has focussed on how baldness is inherited down through common genes, such as androgen receptors passed down through the mother’s X chromosome.

The team at the University of Bonn, Germany, hopes their revelations, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help identify men at risk and boost treatment. PHOTO BY KAROLINA GRABOWKA/PEXELS 

Studies on how rare genetic variants influence our hair has been lacking.

Experts studied the genetic sequences of 72,469 chaps, looking for what may cause their receding hairlines, horse-shoe-shaped baldness, or total loss of hair.

The analysis highlighted five genes linked with hair loss: EDA2R, WNT10A, HEPH, CEPT1, and EIF3F.

They already knew EDA2R and WNT10A influenced baldness, and HEPH had previously been found in the genetic region most strongly associated with male pattern hair loss.

Sabrina Henne, of the University of Bonn, said: “However, HEPH itself has never been considered as a candidate gene. Our study suggests that it may also play a role.

“The genes CEPT1 and EIF3F are located in genetic regions that have not yet been associated with male-pattern hair loss.

The team at the University of Bonn, Germany, hopes their revelations, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help identify men at risk and boost treatment. PHOTO BY KAROLINA GRABOWKA/PEXELS 

“They are thus entirely new candidate genes, and we hypothesize that rare variants within these genes contribute to the genetic predisposition.

“HEPH, CEPT1, and EIF3F represent highly plausible new candidate genes, given their previously described role in hair development and growth.”

Hair loss was also linked to rare inherited skin diseases such as ectodermal dysplasia, where two or more of the skin, sweat glands, hair nails, teeth, and mucous membranes develop abnormally.

Discussing the focus on rare genes, Henne said: “Such analyses are more challenging as they require large cohorts, and the genetic sequences must be captured base by base, e.g., through genome or exome sequencing of affected individuals.”

Looking at rare genetic variants is difficult because very few people tend to carry them, sometimes just one person has them.

Dr. Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, University of Bonn, explained: “That is why we apply gene-based analyses that first collapse variants on the basis of the genes in which they are located.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker