The myth that hair loss is passed on solely from the female side of a family was busted a long time ago. However, new research appears to question the previously held belief that genetic hair loss could be passed on by either parent. A widely-reported study published in the Nature Genetics journal suggests that many traits are actually more likely to be inherited from our fathers – potentially including hair loss.
Scientists found that, although we inherit a similar amount of DNA from each of our parents, we tend to actively ‘use’ more that we inherit from our dads. This American study is the first of its kind to find that mammals are more genetically similar to their fathers than mothers.This breakthrough will allow advanced studies into the development of diseases and conditions brought about by these genetic mutations, including cancer and diabetes, as well as androgenetic alopecia (more commonly known as male pattern baldness or female hair loss) which previous studies have concluded is likely to be brought about by a parentally-imprinted gene.
Professor Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, from University of North Carolina School of Medicine, explained: “This is an exceptional new research finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics”.
“We know there are 95 genes that are subject to this parent-of-origin effect. They’re called imprinted genes, and they can play roles in diseases, depending on whether the genetic mutation came from the father or the mother. Now we’ve found that in addition to them, there are thousands of other genes that have a novel parent-of-origin effect.”
The research was carried out on mice which were specially bred for the study; three different species of mice with different genes who were all descended from a sub-species of mice that evolved on different continents were selected initially. These mice were then bred in captivity to create nine different types of offspring which were then used to produce another generation of mice.
Once these mice became adults, researchers examined them, looking at the expression of genes in four different kinds of tissue, employing RNA sequencing technology to identify gene expression in the brain. The research team then determined where every single piece of each mouse’s genetic information in their DNA had been inherited from – their mother or their father.
The study findings showed an imbalance, rendering the test mice’s brain genes significantly more like their father’s, meaning an increased uptake of paternal genetic mutations. From this the scientists were able to conclude that genes may have different consequences depending on who they are inherited from.
Professor de Villena noted: “This expression level is dependent on the mother or the father. We now know that mammals express more genetic variance from the father. So imagine that a certain kind of mutation is bad. If inherited from the mother, the gene wouldn’t be expressed as much as it would be if it were inherited from the father. So, the same bad mutation would have different consequences in disease if it were inherited from the mother or from the father.”
This new information could be used to further many health causes, including giving us a better understanding of some hair loss conditions and, through further testing, perhaps identifying new ways in which we can prevent or treat them in the future.
For now though, if you start to notice signs of hair loss it is best to contact a specialist who will be able to diagnose your condition and discuss the most effective hair loss treatments for your specific needs, with you.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.