A new study has revealed that bald men are more likely to suffer with severe COVID. The findings were revealed at the EADV 2021 Spring Symposium, linking a biomarker relating to hair loss, with severe COVID infections.
Below, we will look at what the study into COVID and male pattern baldness found and how it might help in the treatment of COVID-19.
The link between COVID and male pattern baldness explored
The study was carried out after researchers noticed a large number of men who were hospitalised for COVID, had androgenetic alopecia. That is, male pattern baldness. The goal of the study was to determine how the androgen receptor gene associated with COVID. It is known that an enzyme associated with the COVID-19 infection, is regulated by an androgen response.
The study included 65 male patients who had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Their AR CAG repeat length was measured. This revealed that patients who had a CAG repeat of under 22 nucleotides, were dramatically less likely to be admitted into the ICU than those with a higher score.
The CAG repeat region is located within the AR gene, and it is also associated with androgenetic alopecia.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is a common type of hair loss said to affect around 50% of men aged over 50. It is thought to be caused by both genetic and hormonal factors.
The DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) hormone changes the scalp’s hair follicles. Those that are affected start to become smaller and shorter in length. Eventually, the hair follicles shrink completely and stop producing new hair.
This type of hair loss tends to follow the same pattern. The hairline recedes, while hair starts to fall out from the top of the head. Currently, there is no cure for male pattern baldness. However, new treatments are constantly being developed to help treat the condition.
How might the study help with future treatments?
This new study could help in the development of new treatments, particularly for COVID-19. The researchers are now exploring a new therapy for the coronavirus. It involves a novel androgen receptor antagonist, working to regulate the TMPRSS2 expression. This would possibly help to treat COVID patients.
The research could also help in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. By looking into how the AR gene contributes towards the condition, preventative measures can be explored.
What current treatments are available for androgenetic alopecia?
While there isn’t a cure for androgenetic alopecia, there are some ways to treat it. Using oral and topical treatments can help to slow its progression. Hair transplant surgery may also be available depending upon the severity of the condition. A hair loss expert can advise on the most appropriate treatment option.