Hormonal basis of male and female androgenic alopecia: clinical relevance

Skin Pharmacol. 1994;7(1-2):61-6. doi: 10.1159/000211275.


A broad range of hormones was determined in males and females with androgenic hair loss (AH). The androgens testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and sex hormone binding globulin were evaluated in 65 male and 46 female patients. Besides estradiol (E2), cortisol (F), and the hypophyseal hormones LH, FSH, and prolactin (PRL) were investigated. Hormone levels were compared with those of 58 age-matched male and 45 female controls. In 38 of the 46 female AH patients, hypophyseal function was moreover evaluated by the 'TRH test', which detects slight, secondary hypothyroidism and/or hyperprolactinemia. Our findings showed a significant elevation of F in both male and female AH patients compared to controls, pointing to the suprarenes as a contributing factor in AH. This is confirmed by the observation of exacerbated AH in periods of increased stress. Concerning specifically male androgens, a significant elevation of androstenedione was noted. The mainly peripheral activity of this hormone and elevated E2 levels in males stress the importance of androgen metabolism especially at the peripheral level. Additional TRH tests in females demonstrated significant hypophyseal hypothyroidism. Multilayered interaction between thyroid hormones and androgens may contribute to the development of AH in hyperthyroid patients. Another significant finding was elevated PRL after TRH stimulation. Thus, the androgen-stimulating effect of PRL may also play a role in female AH. Our findings show multilayered hormonal influences in AH. Broad-range hormone determination demonstrated a differentiated hormonal situation in this disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alopecia / blood
  • Alopecia / physiopathology*
  • Androgens / blood
  • Androgens / physiology*
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Hormones / blood
  • Pituitary Hormones / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Hormones
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone