Impairment of autophagy may be associated with follicular miniaturization in androgenetic alopecia by inducing premature catagen

J Dermatol. 2021 Mar;48(3):289-300. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.15672. Epub 2020 Dec 1.


Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss disorder. The features of this process are shortening of the anagen phase in hair cycling and progressive miniaturization of the hair follicle. However, the mechanisms in androgenetic alopecia are still unclear, and the treatment methods are also limited. Therefore, further study on the pathogenesis and new therapies for androgenetic alopecia are urgently needed. In this study, we found that endogenous autophagy was severely impaired, accompanied by increased apoptosis in early catagen-like miniaturized hair follicles from the balding scalps of androgenetic alopecia patients. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy using 3-methyladenine could induce apoptosis, premature hair follicle regression and slow down the hair growth in organ-cultured hair follicles. Taken together, these results suggest that impairment of autophagy could be a potential mechanism in androgenetic alopecia.

Keywords: androgenetic alopecia; apoptosis; autophagy; hair follicle; hair growth.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia*
  • Autophagy
  • Hair
  • Hair Follicle*
  • Humans
  • Miniaturization