Androgenic alopecia is a genetic form of hair loss dependent on the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is produced in the body as a result of the male hormone testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase enzymes coming together. Finasteride works to slow or even stop further hair loss and improve hair growth in balding men by inhibiting type 2 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, thus minimizing the amount of DHT in the body. Finasteride however, does nothing to inhibit type 1 5-alpha-reductase enzymes. A study conducted by University of Oklahoma Health Sciences in 1999 attempted to determine the effect of finasteride on scalp skin and serum androgens.
Men with androgenic alopecia underwent scalp biopsies before and after receiving 0.01, 0.05, 0.2, 1, or 5 mg daily of finasteride or placebo for 42 days.
With placebo, scalp skin and serum DHT levels declined by 13.0% and less than .001 respectively. The tables below show the effects of finasteride doses between .01 and 5 mg on scalp skin and serum DHT levels.
In this study, doses of finasteride as low as 0.2 mg per day maximally decreased both scalp skin and serum DHT levels. These data support the rationale used to conduct clinical trials in men with male pattern baldness at doses of finasteride between 0.2 and 5 mg.
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