European Journal of Dermatology


Androgen responsive genes as they affect hair growth Volume 11, issue 4, July - August 2001


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ARATEC Research PO Box 7, Ocala, FL 34478, USA. R.W. Keane: University of Miami, Dept Physiology & Biophysics, Miami, Florida, USA.

Finasteride has been shown to be an effective treatment for men with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) as it restores hair growth to miniaturized hair follicles on the top of the scalp [1]. Caspases are regulators of programmed cell death, and very likely some specific caspases may function as mediators of the hair growth cycle. It is unclear whether finasteride influences the regulation of apoptosis via caspases in the hair follicle. Very little information is available regarding the role of caspases present in human hair follicles in normal scalp and in androgenetic alopecia. In this study we have analyzed the family of caspases, 1-10 along with usurpin, and XIAP, in men with normal scalp and in men with androgenetic alopecia before and after 6 months treatment with 1 mg oral finasteride treatment. Caspases 1, 3, 8 and 9 were detected predominately within the isthmic and infundibular hair follicle area for both normal and AGA patients, however the expression of all factors, especially caspase 3 was greater in the AGA group than in the normal scalp group. AGA men had the same caspase factors but with greater expression. In the same AGA men treated with finasteride for 6 months, the expression of these factors was similar to levels in the normal group. Results from our study indicate caspase 3 to be of primary importance in normal hair homeostasis and that DHT may be signaling greater expression of caspases, inducing apoptosis in androgenetic alopecia. In conclusion, DHT may selectively regulate the caspase genes which play an important role in signaling programmed cell death, affecting the hair growth cycle.