Bad hair days are all down to our genes, according to a new study.
Our hairstyles are dictated by whorls, a patch growing in a circular pattern around a particular point – and scientists have discovered four genetic variants that alter their appearance.
The whorl’s point is dictated by the orientation of hair follicles, and the whorls are easily identifiable from person to person.
Patterns are usually defined by the whorl number – single or double – and the whorl direction, clockwise and anti-clockwise.
Atypical whorl patterns have been spotted in patients with abnormal neurological development, leading the experts to study why we look the way we do.
Genetic variants 7p21.3, 5q33.2, 7q33 and 14q32,13 were found to influence the hair whorl direction by shifting the shape of the hair follicles.
The hair trends are also likely influenced by cranial neural tube closure, and growth, according to Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Lead investigator Dr. Sijia Wang, Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained: “We know very little about why we look like we do.
“Our group has been looking for the genes underlying various interesting traits of physical appearance, including fingerprint patterns, eyebrow thickness, earlobe shape and hair curliness.
“Hair whorl is one of the traits that we were curious about. The prevailing opinion was that hair whorl direction is controlled by a single gene, exhibiting Mendelian inheritance.
“However, our results demonstrate that hair whorl direction is influenced by the cumulative effects of multiple genes, suggesting a polygenic inheritance.
“While previous work proposed the hypothesis of associations between hair whorl patterns and abnormal neurological development, no significant genetic associations were observed between hair whorl direction and behavioral, cognitive, or neurological phenotypes.
“Although we still know very little about why we look like we do, we are confident that curiosity will eventually drive us to the answers.”
Whorls on the scalps of 2,149 Chinese people were studied, and a further 1,950 Chinese nationals were looked at too for the study in Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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