Importance: Early androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is patterned hair loss occurring before age 30 years. Early AGA in men is frequently reported as the phenotypic equivalent of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women, which carries the risk of developing obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. Very few studies have been conducted to evaluate this.
Objective: To study the hormonal profile of men with early AGA and to evaluate if early AGA in men can be considered as the phenotypic equivalent of PCOS, the associated risks of which are well known.
Design, setting, and participants: This case-control study was conducted from January 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015, in a tertiary care government hospital. Fifty-seven men aged 19 to 30 years presenting with patterned hair loss were recruited as study participants. Thirty-two age-matched men with no evidence of hair loss were recruited as controls. Men who had any established endocrine disorder, diabetes mellitus, or cardiovascular disease and those who took any oral medication or hormonal treatment for hair loss were excluded from the study. The serum concentrations of total testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, fasting plasma glucose, and insulin levels were measured. Insulin resistance (IR) and free androgen index (FAI) were calculated and compared with age- and sex-matched controls.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was to measure the clinico-endocrinological profiles (LH, FSH, SHBG, DHEAS, and testosterone levels) of men with early AGA and to compare it with the PCOS profile; the secondary outcome was to establish a relationship between this endocrinological profile and IR.
Results: Compared with the 32 controls, the 57 participants with AGA showed significantly increased mean (SD) levels of testosterone (24.61 [7.97] vs 20.57 [4.9] nmol/L; P = .04), DHEAS (3.63 [2.19] vs 2.64 [1.49] µg/mL; P = .02), LH (7.78 [3.19] vs 4.56 [2.01] mIU/mL; P < .001), and prolactin (14.14 [9.48] vs 9.97 [3.12] ng/mL; P = .01) and decreased mean levels of FSH (4.02 [2.69] vs 5.66 [1.93] mIU/mL; P < .001) and SHBG (35.07 [11.11] vs 46.41 [14.03] nmol/L; P < .001). The mean FAI and LH/FSH ratio were was also increased in the AGA group. These hormonal parameters resemble the well-known profile of women with PCOS. The mean (SD) insulin levels did not show any significant difference between the cases and controls (6.34 [3.92] vs 5.09 [3.38] μIU/mL; P = .07). There was no statistically significant association between hormone levels and AGA or IR grade severity.
Conclusions and relevance: Men with early AGA could be considered as male phenotypic equivalents of women with PCOS. They can be at risk of developing the same complications associated with PCOS, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, IR, cardiovascular diseases, and infertility.