A high scalp sensitivity to androgens is part of the pathophysiology of male-pattern baldness (MPB). Androgens affect established risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD), and a supposedly heightened impact on these risk factors is hypothesized to explain the epidemiological association between MPB and CHD. In this retrospective, observational study we studied 81 female-to-male transsexual (F-->M) subjects, mean age 36.7 years (range 21-61), treated with testosterone esters (n=61; 250 mg i.m./2 weeks) or testosterone undecanoate (n=20; 160-240 mg/day orally). The degree of MPB was self-assessed using a 5-point scale (i.e. type I (no hair loss) to type V (complete hair loss)). Body mass index, blood pressure and levels of lipid and insulin were retrospectively assessed at the start of testosterone administration (0.5-24 years before) and between 3 and 4 months of follow-up. We found that 31 of 81 (38.3%) F-->M transsexuals had MPB type II-V. Thinning of hair was related to the duration of androgen administration and present in about 50% of F-->M transsexuals after 13 years. None of the CHD risk factors at follow-up, nor proportional changes, was associated with the degree MPB, except that there was an unexpected tendency of lower fasting glucose levels in balding subjects. Therefore, our findings do not support the idea that MPB serves as an indicator of increased CHD risk through androgenic effects on classic CHD risk factors.
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