Quantification of hair follicle parameters using computer image analysis: a comparison of androgenetic alopecia with normal scalp biopsies

Australas J Dermatol. 1995 Aug;36(3):143-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-0960.1995.tb00956.x.


Computer image analysis enables large numbers of hairs to be measured in an automated fashion. In this study, we examined horizontal scalp biopsies from 10 patients with a histological diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia and 10 normal control subjects. The density of hair follicles and the ratio of terminal to vellus hairs were determined. Hair shaft, hair canal and hair follicle diameter, inner root sheath width and outer root sheath area were measured using the Chromatic Colour Image Analysis program. This study showed a statistically significant progressive decrease in size of hair canal diameters from normal terminal hairs (85.93 +/- 10.07 microns) through to androgenetic alopecia terminal (68.83 +/- 13.60 microns) and vellus hairs (28.67 +/- 5.60 microns). This pattern is also seen with hair follicle diameters; normal terminal (268.41 +/- 24.88 microns), androgenetic alopecia terminal (236.34 +/- 17.23 microns), and vellus hairs (130.88 +/- 19.96 microns). Outer root sheath areas, hair shaft diameters and ratio of terminal to vellus hairs were significantly larger in normal (18,500 +/- 4222 microns 2; 82.71 +/- 13.79 microns; 36:1; respectively) compared with androgenetic alopecia scalp biopsies (8403 +/- 3322 microns 2; 61.11 +/- 14.42 microns; 3:1; respectively), whereas inner root sheath width and density did not vary significantly. Computer image analysis can be adapted for use in clinical trials where large numbers and objectivity are critical in determining the efficacy of hair growth promoters.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alopecia / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / anatomy & histology*
  • Hair Follicle / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scalp / pathology