In this Health News article from the BBC news site, it is reported that experts are close to discovering what makes your hair turn gray. Although graying hair is the easiest stage of ageing to solve (with hair dyeing) it is often inconvenient because you have to color your hair so frequently to keep the gray roots from constantly showing up. However, coloring your hair is easy, easier and cheaper than let’s say Botox or plastic surgery.
The grey hairs that develop with age really are signs of stress, at least of the cellular kind, say scientists.
Genotoxic stress, namely anything that damages the genetic code of life DNA, causes a malfunction of the cells ultimately responsible for hair colour.
The stress sets off a chain of reactions involving specialised cells called melanocyte stem cells, their work on mice in Cell journal reveals.
Similar mechanisms appear to be at work in humans too, they say.
The findings could help explain why people with Ataxia telangiectasia, a rare, neurodegenerative syndrome caused by a mutation in a gene called ATM, go grey prematurely.
In their study, Dr Emi Nishimura and colleagues found the ATM “caretaker” gene serves as a checks and measures system to stop melanocyte stem cells going awry.
It is the job of these cells within the hair follicles to make the mature pigment-producing melanocytes that give hair its youthful colour.
Researchers have already traced greying to the gradual dying off of the stem cells.
But this is not the only way the stem cells are depleted. They also progressively make errors, turning or differentiating into fully committed pigment cells in the wrong place within the hair follicle, where they are useless for colouring hair. And the latest work on mice shows irreparable DNA damage, as caused by ultraviolet light and ionising radiation, is responsible.
Dr Nishimura of Kanazawa University said: “Once stem cells are damaged irreversibly, the damaged stem cells need to be eliminated to maintain the quality of the stem cell pool. “We found that excessive genotoxic stress triggers differentiation of melanocyte stem cells.”
But others believe going grey is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles. The hydrogen peroxide ends up blocking the normal production of melanin, an team of European scientists recently reported in the FASEB scientific journal, published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Finding the cure to gray hair would be a miracle come true for most people. Read more at the BBC Health Site by clicking here.