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So stress causes white hair


Dialogue between the nervous system and stem cells discovered (ANSA)

True, stress causes white hair to come. It is therefore not just an anecdote that of Queen Marie Antoinette's hair which turned white in one night when she was captured during the French Revolution. In fact, it has been discovered that there is a link between the nervous system and the stem cells that regenerate pigments: the result lays the foundations for understanding the wider effects of stress on organs and tissues. Published in the journal Nature, the research was conducted between the United States and Brazil under the leadership of Ya-Chieh Hsu, of the American Harvard University.

"Hair that turns white due to stress is like a traffic light that underlines in an understandable way to everyone how everyday life affects our health heavily," Carlo Alberto Redi, director of the University's Laboratory of Development Biology, told ANSA of Pavia. This is the last example but, he adds, "a lot of research has shown how the environment heavily influences the way DNA is expressed: we are what we are for the genes we inherited, but also for the way they are influenced by daily life, from work stress to emotional experiences, with consequences on life expectancy ".

White hair, observes Redi, is an aesthetic fact, but far more important is the risk of developing diseases due to stress. In fact, "by understanding exactly how stress affects the stem cells that regenerate the pigment - Ya-Chieh Hsu points out - we laid the foundations for understanding how stress affects other tissues and organs of the body and this is the first step towards any treatments that can to stop the damaging impact of stress. "

The discovery happened by accident. The researchers were conducting a pain study on dark-haired mice and gave them a toxin to induce pain. "About four weeks after the injection of the toxin, the fur of the animals had turned completely white," says Thiago Mattar Cunha, of the Brazilian university of São Paulo.

The researchers then designed a very simple experiment to understand if the phenomenon depended on stress induced by pain and therefore on the activation of the fibers of the sympathetic nervous system, which branch out into each hair follicle on the skin. After injecting the toxin into the mice, the researchers treated them with a drug that could inhibit their transmission to the fibers of the sympathetic nervous system. "We observed that the hair color loss process was blocked by the treatment," says Cunha.

It has thus emerged that stress causes the fibers of the sympathetic nervous system to release large quantities of the norepinephrine neurotransmitter, which is absorbed by the stem cells that regenerate the pigment responsible for hair color and that are found in the hair bulb, promoting its rapid reduction.

The experiments on mice showed that "in a few days, all the stem cells that regenerate the pigments are lost. Once they disappear - concludes Hsu - it is no longer possible to regenerate the pigment. The damage is permanent".

Source: ansa

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