What Is DHT? Everything You Need To Know About The 'Hair Loss Hormone'
DHT is a hormone that's naturally produced in the body. DHT stands for Dihydrotestosterone, which is sometimes referred to as "hair loss hormone." DHT can be found in both men and women, though it's present in much higher concentrations in males than females.
Why do some people think DHT causes hair loss?
Well, DHT does play an important role when it comes to hair growth and scalp health. DHT has been shown to increase hair follicle size, so they produce thicker hairs. DHT also increases the percentage of hairs going into resting phase (telogen). That means there are more hairs ready to fall out after a certain time period because they're not going through the active growing stage (anagen). DHT has also been associated with male pattern baldness. DHT binds to receptors on hair follicles that contain the protein 5-alpha reductase. This binding activates the 5-alpha reductase, which then converts testosterone into DHT. Dihydrotestosterone can act as either an androgen or an estrogen within the body, depending on the tissue it's acting upon.
DHT is responsible for sexual development in males during puberty and helps contribute to bone mass, sex drive, mental health, aggression levels, and men's body hair . DHT is also thought to play a role in prostate enlargement due to an enlargement of prostatic cells induced by DHT. DHT has been linked to acne and hair loss. DHT can cause hair follicles on the scalp to miniaturize . This means the follicles produce smaller hairs, which results in thinning hair. DHT also causes increased shedding of hairs through increased activity of 5-alpha reductase and DHT binding to receptors on the scalp.
DHT And Hair Loss
The enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase has been pinpointed as a major trigger for DHT production and androgenic alopecia (a common pattern of hair loss in males). Dihydrotestosterone is converted from testosterone by Type II 5-alpha reductase enzymes found mostly within the scalp's tissues (in both dermal papilla cells and outer root sheath cells). Dihydrotestosterone is relatively inactive until it's further converted to another hormone. It was once believed DHT alone caused hair loss, but now it seems DHT may not be entirely responsible for male pattern baldness. This means Dihydrotestosterone may not be the most important factor in general hair thinning.
Dihydrotestosterone acts differently on body tissues with Type I and II 5-alpha reductase enzymes. Type I 5-alpha reductase is found in skin cells located outside of the scalp, like on the face and chest. Dihydrotestosterone can act as an estrogen within these tissues because there are no Type II enzymes to convert Dht into a more active form of Dihydrotestosterone. DHT is also more effective at binding to DHT receptors in skin cells like dermal papilla cells.
Dihydrotestosterone can act as an androgen when it comes to DHT receptors on hair follicles on the head because there are Type II 5-alpha reductase enzymes found on these tissues. The scalp has both Type I and Type II 5-alpha reductase enzymes, so DHT can act as either an estrogen or androgen depending on where it's acting. DHT does not bind to Dht receptors, which is why DHT may not be the most significant player in pattern baldness among men.
Though Dihydrotestosterone may not be the most important factor in pattern baldness, DHT is still a very important hormone when it comes to hair growth and scalp health. DHT can contribute to hair loss in two ways: DHT contributes to increased shedding by binding DHT receptors on the scalp's tissues and DHT stimulates 5-alpha reductase activity.
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