A new study by Sharon Keene and Andy Goren examined hair loss in women. Previous studies appeared to indicate that postmenopausal women with hair loss did not respond to finasteride, a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor commonly prescribed for hair loss in men. These findings led researchers to question whether women were actually disposed to androgenetic alopecia, more commonly referred to as pattern baldness. Recently published reports of finasteride response in some women with hair loss, however, indicate an androgenic mechanism may indeed be present.
Keene and Goren’s study was undertaken in an effort to determine whether variant repeat nucleotide sequences in exon 1 of the androgen receptor gene may help determine which women are likely to respond to finasteride therapy. A 6-month pilot study was undertaken with 13 patients. They found that women with greater androgen sensitivity were likely to have a significant response to finasteride compared with those treated with a placebo and those with normal androgen sensitivity. These results indicated that AR-CAG repeats, in conjunction with epigenetic factors, may in fact help determine which women with hair loss will respond to finasteride therapy.
Women suffering with hair loss can purchase genetic tests, such as HairDX, which may indicate whether their hair loss has an androgenetic basis and predict their response to finasteride. This is helpful for women struggling to find a cause for their hair loss and is a way to “test the waters” before diving into a finasteride regime.