Background: It is well known that some trace elements such as zinc and copper play a significant role in many forms of hair loss. However, the effect of zinc and copper in the pathogenesis of hair loss is still unknown.
Objective: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the zinc and copper status in each of four types of hair loss.
Methods: A study was carried out with 30 health controls and 312 patients who were diagnosed with alopecia areata (AA), male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss and telogen effluvium (TE) (2008 to 2011; Hallym University Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital). Zinc and copper serum concentrations were evaluated between controls and each of four types of hair loss patients.
Results: In all of the hair loss patients, the mean serum zinc was 84.33±22.88, significantly lower than the control group (97.94±21.05 µg/dl) (p=0.002), whereas the serum copper was 96.44±22.62, which was not significantly different (p=0.975). The analysis of each group showed that all groups of hair loss had statistically lower zinc concentration, but not copper concentrations. However, the ratio of the patients with serum zinc concentration lower than 70 µg/dl was significantly high in only the AA group (odds ratio, OR 4.02; confidence interval, CI 1.13 to 14.31) and the TE group (OR 1.12; CI 1.12 to 17.68).
Conclusion: The data led to the hypothesis of zinc metabolism disturbances playing a key role in hair loss, especially AA and TE, whereas the effect of copper on hair growth and shedding cycles still needs more study.
Keywords: Alopecia; Copper; Zinc.