Microbiome in the hair follicle of androgenetic alopecia patients

PLoS One. 2019 May 3;14(5):e0216330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216330. eCollection 2019.


Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in males. It is a multifactorial condition involving genetic predisposition and hormonal changes. The role of microflora during hair loss remains to be understood. We therefore analyzed the microbiome of hair follicles from hair loss patients and the healthy. Hair follicles were extracted from occipital and vertex region of hair loss patients and healthy volunteers and further dissected into middle and lower compartments. The microbiome was then characterized by 16S rRNA sequencing. Distinct microbial population were found in the middle and lower compartment of hair follicles. Middle hair compartment was predominated by Burkholderia spp. and less diverse; while higher bacterial diversity was observed in the lower hair portion. Occipital and vertex hair follicles did not show significant differences. In hair loss patients, miniaturized vertex hair houses elevated Propionibacterium acnes in the middle and lower compartments while non-miniaturized hair of other regions were comparable to the healthy. Increased abundance of P. acnes in miniaturized hair follicles could be associated to elevated immune response gene expression in the hair follicle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / microbiology*
  • Burkholderia / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Propionibacterium / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

The study is supported by Agency for Science, Technology and Research in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.