Here's why some people's hair goes grey early, according to science

Gray Hair

Our immune system is constantly defending us against viruses and bacteria, prompting cells under attack to produce signaling molecules called interferons.

An overactive immune response, which can occur with viral infections, could result in sudden hair graying, according to research in mice. "We like to study gray hair because it's an easy readout of melanocyte stem cell dysfunction".

She said melanocytes deposit pigment colour in the hair shaft and if the Melanogenesis Associated Transcription Factor (MITF) can not control the effects of interferon on melanocytes, greying occurs. "We also demonstrate that the viral mimic poly (I:C) is sufficient to expose genetic susceptibility to hair graying". Nothing quite like this phenomenon has been confirmed by science, though gradual hair graying has been studied to uncover mechanisms of stem cell self-renewal.

"All of this work was done in mice, and so we are hesitant to make too many inferences to humans without further experimentation", said lead author Melissa L. Harris from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Scientists from the United States as a result of experiments on mice found a link in the genes responsible for hair color, the genes that control the immune system.

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Because MITF turns out to be a "critical suppressor of innate immunity" and can cause loss of pigment producing cells, there may be implications for understanding vitiligo as well, the authors conclude.

Researchers have always been wondering where gray hair actually comes from.

Why mice that are predisposed for getting gray hair are more susceptible to dysregulated innate immune signaling remains to be answered. Vitiligo, which causes discolored skin patches, affects between 0.5 percent to 1 percent of all humans.

A new study has shed light on the role our immune system could play in our hair turning gray when we deal with stress or illness.

Usually, gray hair is associated with old age, but there are many people whose hair gets whiter even when they are younger. The researchers speculate that perhaps this can explain why some people experience premature gray hair early in life, and they will continue their studies to address this question.

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