science and space
Myth or reality? A scientific study finally has the answer.
” Don’t get gray hair, everything will be fine Sometimes we say to reassure a loved one who is in an anxious state. An expression that entered the language of everyday life, but is it really grounded? Scientists from Harvard University wanted to know if stress can really change the color of our hair.
Because stress affects the whole body, the researchers first had to identify the body system responsible for the association between stress and hair color. Although they initially suspected an immune attack on the pigment-producing cells, they then turned to the hormone cortisol (which plays an important role in blood glucose homeostasis and sugar release). ” Stress always raises cortisol levels in the body, so we thought cortisol might play a role said study lead author Ya-Chieh Hsu, professor of regenerative biology at Harvard University. ” Surprisingly, however, when we removed the adrenal glands from the mice so that they could no longer produce cortisol-like hormones, their hair turned gray due to stress. »
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After ruling out various possibilities, the researchers turned to the sympathetic nervous system. They discovered that stress causes sympathetic nerves to release norepinephrine, which is taken up by nearby stem cells that regenerate pigment.
Severe damage that cannot be recovered until before the damage
In the hair root, some stem cells act as a depot for pigment-producing cells. Due to stress, all hair stem cells turn into pigment-producing cells. In the long run, the hair prematurely depletes its reservoir of pigment, remaining white. “ When we first started researching this question, I expected stress to be harmful to the body – but the negative impact of stress we discovered was beyond what I could have imagined. Hsu commented. ” After only a few days, all the pigment-regenerating stem cells were lost. Once they are gone, the pigment cannot be renewed. The damage is permanent. »
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The findings could help shed light on the broader effects of stress on different organs and tissues. This discovery will pave the way for further studies aimed at modifying or preventing the harmful effects of stress.
” By thoroughly understanding how stress affects pigment-regenerating stem cells, we have laid the foundation for understanding how stress affects other tissues and organs in the body. Says one of the study scientists. Understanding how our tissues change under stress is a critical first step toward a potential treatment that could halt or reverse the harmful effects of stress. We still have a lot to learn in this area. »