HairDX – Genetic Test for Male Pattern Baldiness

HairDX – Genetic Test for Male Pattern Baldiness

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 16, 2008 in DNA Testing

Over the years, I’ve had many different hair styles and not a year goes by without me wondering if it would just be easier to shave it off. But I’m being facetious. Readers of Baldiness and its author, Laura Bzowy, certainly care about hair loss and its effect on all aspects of life. And so, apparently, do the folks at HairDX.

HairDX is a $149 genetic test for male pattern baldness also known as androgenic alopecia. It examines unspecified SNPs in genes on the X chromosome that code for the androgen receptor. A previous study in 2005 showed that the genetic variant which codes for excess androgen receptors lies on the X chromosome and is the major determinant of male pattern baldness. HairDX claims that the high risk genetic variants they study account for 95.1% to 98.1 of cases of early onset baldness before the age of 40.

Why take a genetic test for a condition that is not life threatening? HairDX CEO Andy Goren is trying to help you save money:

Each year, men in their twenties and thirties spend millions of dollars on pharmaceuticals, topical products, and other costly treatments trying to prevent baldness. Some of this is done by males who may not go bald in the first place.

So here’s the breakdown:

  • Positive HairDX – Sorry, you lose the genetic lottery.
  • Negative HairDX – Sorry, you could still lose your hair because of other reasons, genetic or otherwise.

Does anybody know if 23andMe or deCODEme test for baldness-related SNPs?* I’m not sure which is a more cost-effective way to go.

In any case, I think this guy’s a lost cause.

ricardo vidal

It’s Rick Vidal from My Biotech Life! Still looking good minus a few strands of hair. :D

*Genetic genealogist Ann Turner has lots more information in her comment.

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(13 comments)


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13 Comments

Comment by Ricardo Vidal

More than a few strands… but hey, it’s a sign of evolution, right?

RIGHT!? :)

 
 
Comment by cariaso

the only baldness related snp I’m aware of is rs6152 which is *not* on the microarrays used by 23andMe or deCODEme.

If anyone knows of other baldness snps, SNPedia and I would like to know more.

Thanks for the comment and link to SNPedia, cariaso!

 
 
Comment by Ann Turner Subscribed to comments via email

The HairDX website is short on specifics, so I’m reading between the lines. The sample report mentions one gene location on chromosome X and gives references to three articles. The one by Hillmer is available online at

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1226186&blobtype=pdf

The exact chromosome location is not in the Hillmer paper, and it may depend on the build number. It’s possible that HairDX is testing rs6152, a marker in the general vicinity and not included in the 23andMe or deCODEme sets.

However, both companies include three markers in the general vicinity, which are in strong linkage disequilibrium with rs6152 and each other: rs1204038, rs5919393, and rs1337080. In the Hillmer paper, 95.4% to 98.5% of men with early onset of male-pattern baldness will have a certain allele (G / T / A) at those three markers. But here’s the kicker: so will 72.9% to 85.9% of males who still have a full head of hair at age 60+.

The HairDX website states it differently, making it sound like the allele confers a 95.1% to 98.1% risk of developing male-pattern baldness before the age of 40. That’s not exactly the same thing as saying that 95% of balding men have a certain allele! Other places on the website talk about multiple alleles and a “patent pending” analysis, so maybe I’m over-interpreting the statements, but I’m left wondering…

Hi Ann, It’s an honor to have you commenting here! Thank you for the great information. Now I feel so lazy for not having done enough research before posting. :)

I wasn’t too impressed with the HairDX website what with the many spelling errors and overstatements. They need to tone it down unless they’re going for the infomercial crowd.

Comment by Ann Turner Subscribed to comments via email

And I thank you for posting so many interesting stories. My interest in SNP testing has ratcheted up considerably since 23andMe and deCODEme came on the scene, and I find it helps my learning curve when I have concrete examples to study.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 

[...] hair), you may wish to forgo the 23andMe expense and put your money down elsewhere as Eye on DNA reports that men can obtain an highly predictive genetic test for baldness. Whew, I’m glad my wife did not know about this test before we were married (and my genetic [...]

 

[...] make your own informed decisions about what you’re going to buy into. For some, it could be a genetic test for balding. For others, it could be a $350,000 personal genome [...]

 
Comment by Gregory Subscribed to comments via email

Can anyone help me? I am not very financially secure (college student), but I am extremely worried about losing my hair. All four males related to my father’s side of the family have started losing their hair before they turned 20 (my grandfather, uncle, father, and brother).

I just turned 21 and still have no visible signs of hairloss! I am extremely worried and actually went to see a dermatologist to ask if I could go on Propecia as a preventative measure. He said no and would not write me a prescription.

I was just wondering whether you think this test would be a worthwhile investment and whether it has anything of value to tell me. Thanks for your help.

Comment by Ann Turner Subscribed to comments via email

Gregory –

As far as I can tell from the material on their website, HairDX is just looking at one gene, and it’s on the X chromosome. As a male, you only have one X chromosome, and it comes from your mother. Since you are looking at the paternal side, that test wouldn’t be relevant.

 
 
Comment by Gregory Subscribed to comments via email

Can anyone confirm this? Oddly enough the only two male members of my mothers side of the family have hair! (my grandfather and uncle). So if what they look at is solely genes inherited from the mother than this test is utterly worthless to me no?

Gregory, Ann is correct. HairDX is looking at only one specific genetic variant located on the X chromosome. There are, however, more than one type of baldness and therefore more than one gene involved. If you were to experience some hair loss, it may be due to genes other than the one being examined by the HairDX genetic test.

Thanks for your comment and I hope you will grow to accept whatever kind of hair you have or will have. I can sympathize with you. I’ve been starting to get some gray hair myself and can’t say I’m too happy about it either!

 
 

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