When the going gets tough, stem cells which produce colour in hair follicles are damaged, say scientists.
But the good news is that limiting the amount of stress can stop grey hairs growing.
Researchers have discovered that hair follicles can suffer the same kind of “genotoxic stress” that does damage to a body’s DNA.
Emi Nishimura, of Kanazawa University, the study’s team leader, said: “The DNA in cells is under constant attack by damaging agents such as mutagenic chemicals, ultraviolet light and radiation.
“It is estimated that a single cell in mammals can encounter approximately 100,000 DNA damaging events per day.”
Nishimura’s group traced the loss of hair colour to the gradual dying off of stem cells which ensure a continuous supply of new melanocytes, giving hair its youthful color.
Those specialized stem cells are not only lost, they also turn into different pigment cells and in the wrong place.
Further research on mice has shown that irreparable DNA damage, as caused by ionizing radiation, is responsible for greying hair.
The findings support previous research that unstable genes are a significant factor in ageing in general, the researchers said.
Loss of stem cells can also lead to to a decline in body tissue renewal and a speeding up of other ageing-related characteristics.
The researchers, writing in the science journal Cell, said: “In this study, we discovered that greying hair, the most obvious sign of ageing, can be caused by gene damage through stem cell differentiation.
“This suggests hair greying can be triggered by the accumulation of unavoidable DNA damage and DNA-damage response associated with ageing.”
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This entry was posted
on Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 11:08 am and is filed under HAIR LOSS FACTS, HAIR LOSS SCIENCE.
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