In some people, hair loss isn’t just a one-time or drawn-out occurrence. It can occur in cycles, with hair falling out, growing back, and falling out again.
Scientists in Hong Kong seeking to better understand this phenomenon bred mice lacking a gene called Sox21. By their 25th day of life, they had lost all of their hair.
“Intriguingly, new hair regrowth was initiated a few days later but was followed by renewed hair loss,” wrote the researchers, led by Yumiko Saga of the Division of Mammalian Development at the National Institute of Genetics. The team also noticed that during periods of hair loss, oil glands enlarged and skin cells thickened.
Confident that the lack of Sox21 was the cause of these conditions, the researchers then examined human skin to look for similarities, and found the gene in the samples.
“We confirmed that Sox21 is also expressed in the hair shaft cuticle in humans,” the researchers explained. “These results indicate that the Sox21 gene could be responsible for some hair loss conditions in humans.” Further research into Sox21 could mean the development of more effective preventative and curative options.
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