A review of the treatment of male pattern hair loss

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2020 Apr;21(5):603-612. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2020.1721463. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Introduction: Androgenetic alopecia is a common hair loss disorder affecting up to 80% of males by the age of 80. It is characterized by androgen related progressive thinning of hair in a defined pattern. It results in diminished self-esteem, reduced confidence and distress in affected men, irrespective of age or stage of baldness. An effective treatment for hair baldness is needed.Areas covered: In androgenetic alopecia, hair follicles undergo progressive miniaturization. Genetic factors and androgens are key role-players in disease pathogenesis. Herein the authors review the pharmacologic treatment of androgenetic alopecia, which involves 5 alpha reductase inhibitors, minoxidil and prostaglandins. Non-pharmacologic approaches are also explored.Expert opinion: Androgenetic alopecia progresses over time and although the current available medical treatments like finasteride and minoxidil are effective in arresting the progression of the disease, they allow only partial regrowth of hair at its best. Early treatment achieves a more optimal outcome. Non-pharmacologic treatments like PRP can be considered in patients refractory to medical treatment.Abbreviations: MPHL: male pattern hair loss; AGA: androgenetic alopecia; DHT: dihydrotestosterone; 5AR: 5-alpha-reductase; VEGF: vascular endothelial growth factor; PG's: prostaglandins (PG's); PGD2R: prostaglandin D2 receptor; VPA: valproic aid; SR: Serenoa Repens; PRP: platelet-rich plasma; PDGF: platelet derived growth factor; TGF: transforming growth factor; ERK: extracellular signal-regulated kinase; PKB: protein kinase B; LLLT: low-level laser therapy; ROS: reactive oxygen species; RCT: randomized control trial; SFRP1: secreted frizzled related protein 1; DP: dermal papilla; PDE5: phosphodiesterase 5.

Keywords: 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors; Androgenetic alopecia; finasteride; male pattern hair loss; minoxidil.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Alopecia / radiotherapy
  • Dry Needling
  • Finasteride / administration & dosage
  • Finasteride / therapeutic use*
  • Hair / drug effects
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / administration & dosage
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use*
  • Prostaglandins / administration & dosage
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Prostaglandins
  • Finasteride
  • Minoxidil