Have you ever wondered why some people naturally have long eyelashes while others don’t? Is it all down to genetics? Well, in this article, we’re going to delve into the fascinating world of eyelash length and genetics. By the end, you might even be tempted to try out some lash extensions for yourself!
Unraveling Eyelash Trichomegaly
When it comes to determining what qualifies as long eyelashes, experts have officially set the benchmark at 12mm, a condition known as eyelash trichomegaly. So, let’s start there.
What Exactly is Eyelash Trichomegaly?
Eyelash trichomegaly refers to eyelashes that are longer than 8mm in the peripheral section and 12mm in the central section. There are various causes of this condition, including environmental factors and, yes, genetic inheritance.
Congenital trichomegaly occurs when someone has abnormally long eyelashes due to a syndrome or disorder they were born with. Two examples of such conditions are Cornelia de Lange and Oliver-McFarlane syndrome. People with these syndromes often have extremely long eyelashes, among other symptoms. However, it’s worth noting that having long eyelashes doesn’t necessarily mean having one of these conditions.
Familial Trichomegaly: A Genetic Mystery
In rare cases, long eyelashes can run in families without any additional symptoms. Scientists are particularly fascinated by these cases, as they strive to understand the origins of long eyelashes.
To gain a better understanding, researchers have taken DNA samples from individuals with trichomegaly eyelashes and compared them to the DNA of family members with shorter eyelashes. The results showed that those with long eyelashes had mutated forms of the FGF5 gene.
The Role of FGF5 in Eyelash Length
FGF5, short for Fibroblast Growth Factor 5, is responsible for producing a protein that regulates hair growth. The mutated gene, however, fails to produce this protein effectively, leading to longer hair growth, especially in the eyelashes.
Exploring Gene Mutations and Trichomegaly
Typically, we have two copies of the FGF5 gene, one from each parent. These copies work together to produce the protein. However, if both copies are mutated or broken, trichomegaly can occur.
Even if there is one normal FGF5 gene and one mutated version, the normal gene can still block excessive hair growth. Therefore, having long eyelashes is considered a recessive trait, requiring two mutated gene copies.
To inherit trichomegaly, you need to receive a mutated version of the FGF5 gene from each of your parents. This is believed to be quite rare.
Trichomegaly and Medication
Aside from genetics, certain medications can also induce eyelash trichomegaly. One such medication is Latanoprost, used in treating glaucoma. It not only helps manage glaucoma but also stimulates hair follicle cells, resulting in longer lashes. Another drug, Erlotinib, used in lung cancer treatment, seems to have a similar effect.
So, the next time you come across someone with naturally long eyelashes, bear in mind that it could be due to a congenital condition, medication for a serious medical condition, or simply good ol’ genetics.
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