US researchers believe they have found the reason why hair turns gray with age, reports the BBC.
These will be pigment-producing cells that lose their ability to mature.
The stunted growth will affect the immature cells that may develop into melanocytes to give the hair its natural color or pigment.
As hair ages, falls out and then grows back, the numbers of melanocyte stem cells become sluggish in their functioning.
Stem cells stop moving in the hair follicles and stick to themselves, and fail to transform into full-fledged melanocytes.
In the absence of pigment, the hair turns gray, white or silver.
The NYU team studied this process on mice, which had cells that matched their hair color.
Researchers believe this discovery could help reverse graying of hair.
“Our study gives us a better understanding of how melanocyte stem cells color hair,” Dr. Kei Sun, the study’s principal investigator and postdoctoral fellow at NYU Langone Health, told Nature.
“The newly discovered mechanisms raise the possibility of the same fixed positioning of melanocyte stem cells in humans. If this is the case, this is a potential route to reversing or preventing graying.”
This discovery could also contribute to the development of new treatments for some types of cancer and skin problems.
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