Japanese scientists found one major source of hair ageing to be associated with the depletion of a collagen gene (COL17A1).
Hair miniaturization of hair follicles is often thought to be a key part in male pattern baldness. When this occurs, hair strands start to thin and the follicles stop producing more hair, all the common symptoms of alopecia.
Ordinarily, hair follicle stem cells (HFSC) are responsible for the growth and repair of hair follicles so that more hair can be produced however once HFSC ages it can no longer replace damaged hair follicles. As a result, hair miniaturization occurs.
This study identified the cause of HFSC ageing to be related to the depletion of COL17A1 as a result of direct DNA damage. In this way, the protection of hair follicles from DNA damage and preventing depletion of COL17A1 are two potentially viable solutions.
Inflammation can be attributed as a source of direct DNA damage as understood in androgenetic alopecia, whilst collagen supplements have been known to be effective for skin and hair.
Future studies should focus more on the role of this gene and solutions to avoid premature depletion of it.
See below for the full study.