Biochemical roles of testosterone and epitestosterone to 5 alpha-reductase as indicators of male-pattern baldness

J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Jan;116(1):57-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2001.00188.x.


In establishing a theory to predict male-pattern baldness, we investigated the correlation of testosterone, epitestosterone, and dihydrotestosterone with 5alpha-reductase in hair using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. One hundred milligram hair samples were obtained from a group of balding subjects and their sons, as well as from a corresponding aged-matched, nonbalding group. The ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone was significantly greater (mean 46.41, p < 0.001; mean 35.83, p < 0.001, respectively) in the hair of balding fathers (n = 19, age 28-50 y) and their sons (n = 16, age 8-16 y) than in the hair of the nonbalding control subjects (mean 9.17 and 10.47, respectively). These findings demonstrate that analysis of terminal hair may not only provide a basis for predicting baldness when the subject is still young, but also for preventing and treating male-pattern baldness by controlling the steroid hormone balance.

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alopecia / diagnosis*
  • Alopecia / enzymology*
  • Child
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism
  • Epitestosterone / metabolism
  • Epitestosterone / physiology*
  • Hair Follicle / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Epitestosterone