Importance of the field: Androgenetic alopecia affects up to 80% of males by the age of 80. The synonym 'male-pattern hair loss' highlights the fact that hair loss occurs in a defined and reproducible pattern. Hair loss results in reduced self esteem, loss of confidence and anxiety in affected men. An effective treatment for hair baldness would be desirable.
Areas covered in this review: In androgenetic alopecia, hair follicles undergo progressive miniaturization. Genetic factors and androgens play a major role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Polymorphism of the androgen receptor gene was first identified in association with androgenetic alopecia. Identification of new susceptibility genes on chromosomes 3q26 and 20p11 suggest that non-androgen-dependent pathways also are involved.
What the reader will gain: Topical monoxidil and oral finasteride are commonly in use and have FDA approval for the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia; dutasteride, a type I and II 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, is on hold in Phase III trials. A combination of medical treatment and hair transplant surgery has shown superior efficacy.
Take-home message: Androgenetic alopecia is a progressive condition and although the current available treatments are effective in arresting the progression of the disease, they allow only partial regrowth of hair at its best. Early treatment achieves the best desirable outcome.