To Evolution

Why Does The Hair Turn Gray Scientists May Have Found A New Answer

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Health


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    A new study sheds light on the role our immune system could play in our hair that turns gray when we deal with stress or illness. The cells are known as melanocytes and form melanin and color our hair. The special stem cells then add melanocytes to the new follicles when the hair falls out. When these stem cells stop working, our hair loses its pigment. It is this process and its relationship with the defenses of our immune system that scientists from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) set out to investigate in mice.Our immune system constantly defends us against viruses and bacteria, which causes cells under attack to produce signaling molecules called interferons. Interferons signal other cells that activate gene expression that prevents viruses from replicating and trigger immune effector cells that protect the body. For the article published in the journal PLOS Biology, the authors studied how the response of the immune system to attacks affects the MITF protein. It helps the melanocytes to function. They discovered that when MITF loses control of the response to interferon in the melanocyte stem cells, the hair can turn gray. In addition, mice genetically predisposed to develop gray hair had this response even when the immune response was artificially activated. More research is needed to understand what caused these reactions, and also to see if these effects also occur in the human body.Scientists hope that their research will offer new insights into diseases that affect pigmentation, including vitiligo, a condition that destroys pigment cells in the skin.Melissa Harris, the lead author of the study and assistant professor in the department of biology at the UAB, said in a statement: "Genomic tools allow us to evaluate how all the genes in our genome change their expression under different conditions, and sometimes they change. ways we do not anticipate. " We are interested in genes that affect the way our stem cells last over time. We like to study gray hair because it is an easy reading of the dysfunction of the melanocyte stem cells. "William Pavan, head of the Research Branch of Genetic Diseases at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and co-author of the study, said in a statement: "This new discovery suggests that the genes that control pigments in hair and the skin also work to control the innate immune system" These results can improve our understanding of hair graying, and more importantly, discover this connection will help us understand pigmentation diseases that affect the innate immune system, such as vitiligo."