Genetics and other factors in the aetiology of female pattern hair loss

Exp Dermatol. 2017 Jun;26(6):510-517. doi: 10.1111/exd.13373.


Pattern hair loss is the most common form of hair loss in both women and men. Male pattern hair loss, also termed male androgenetic alopecia (M-AGA), is an androgen-dependent trait that is predominantly genetically determined. Androgen-mediated mechanisms are probably involved in female pattern hair loss (FPHL) in some women but the evidence is less strong than in M-AGA; other non-androgenic pathways, including environmental influences, may contribute to the aetiology. Genome-wide association studies have identified several genetic loci for M-AGA and have provided better insight into the underlying biology. However, the role of heritable factors in Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) is largely unknown. Recently published studies have been restricted to candidate gene approaches and could not clearly identify any susceptibility locus/gene for FPHL but suggest that the aetiology differs substantially from that of M-AGA. Hypotheses about possible pathomechanisms of FPHL as well as the results of the genetic studies performed to date are summarized.

Keywords: clinics; female pattern hair loss; genetic complex disorder; molecular genetics; pathomechanism.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / epidemiology
  • Alopecia / etiology*
  • Alopecia / genetics*
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Iron / chemistry
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Prevalence
  • Prostaglandins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Steroids / metabolism
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Vitamin D / chemistry


  • Androgens
  • Genetic Markers
  • Prostaglandins
  • Steroids
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron