Background: It has not been conclusively established that female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is either due to androgens or responsive to oral antiandrogen therapy.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of oral antiandrogen therapy in the management of women with FPHL using standardized photographic techniques (Canfield Scientific), and to identify clinical and histological parameters predictive of clinical response.
Methods: For this single-centre, before-after, open intervention study, 80 women aged between 12 and 79 years, with FPHL and biopsy-confirmed hair follicle miniaturization [terminal/vellus (T/V) hair ratio < or = 4 : 1] were photographed at baseline and again after receiving a minimum of 12 months of oral antiandrogen therapy. Forty women received spironolactone 200 mg daily and 40 women received cyproterone acetate, either 50 mg daily or 100 mg for 10 days per month if premenopausal. Women using topical minoxidil were excluded. Standardized photographs of the midfrontal and vertex scalp were taken with the head positioned in a stereotactic device. Images were evaluated by a panel of three clinicians experienced in the assessment of FPHL, blinded to patient details and treatment and using a three-point scale.
Results: As there was no significant difference in the results or the trend between spironolactone and cyproterone acetate the results were combined. Thirty-five (44%) women had hair regrowth, 35 (44%) had no clear change in hair density before and after treatment, and 10 (12%) experienced continuing hair loss during the treatment period. Ordinal logistic regression analysis to identify predictors of response revealed no influence of patient age, menopause status, serum ferritin, serum hormone levels, clinical stage (Ludwig) or histological parameters such as T/V ratio or fibrosis. The only significant predictor was midscalp clinical grade, with higher-scale values associated with a greater response (P = 0.013).
Conclusion: Eighty-eight percent of women receiving oral antiandrogens could expect to see no progression of their FPHL or improvement. High midscalp clinical grade was the only predictor of response identified. A placebo-controlled study is required to compare this outcome to the natural history of FPHL.