Researchers believe they have found the mechanism of graying, so in the future it is possible to develop treatments that help reverse or stop the process, wrote the online edition of the British newspaper The Guardian.
As hair ages, stem cells become trapped in follicles and may lose their ability to mature and maintain hair color, according to a new study. Certain stem cells – capable of developing into many different cell types – have a unique ability to transit between growth compartments in follicles. These cells lose their ability to move with age, leading to graying.
Research focused on cells found in the skin of mice and humans, called melanocyte stem cells. Scientists, led by researchers at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, suggested that if their findings hold true in humans, it could open the way to reversing or preventing graying. The leader of the study, Qi Sun, pointed out: “the newly discovered mechanisms raise the possibility that the same fixed location of melanocyte stem cells may exist in humans.” He added: if this is the case, then by promoting the movement of stuck cells again, the possibility of reversing or preventing graying opens up.
The color of the hair is regulated by whether the melanocyte stem cells, which are continuously multiplying in the hair follicles, receive a signal to mature. Mature cells produce the protein pigments responsible for hair color. Researchers have found out that during normal hair growth, melanocyte stem cells constantly commute between the compartments of developing hair follicles. In these compartments, stem cells receive signals that influence their maturation. Researchers found that melanocyte stem cells transform from their most primitive stem cell state to the next level of maturation depending on where they are located. According to the results, as the hair ages, falls out, and then grows back, the stem cells become trapped in the hair follicle in increasing numbers.