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Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair

people who gray prematurely have mutations that knock out Bcl2 activity, Fisher says. “This tells us there is a requirement for Bcl2 in normal hair follicle cycling,?adds Fisher. “So the question is: what in the hair follicle is signaling the stem cells that is absent when aging occurs and the stem cells die off? Now we have a much more refined way of dissecting that signaling pathway in melanoma. Eventually we hope to tap into this death pathway, thereby using drugs to mimic the aging process, to successfully treat melanoma.?The team also made mice lacking a gene, MITF that regulates Bcl2. These mice also went gray, but more gradually than did the mice that had no Bcl2. The loss of MITF activity, the investigators say, appears to be implicated in the mistaken differentiation of melanocyte stem cells that accompanies the stem cells?depletion. MITF, they conclude, seems to play a crucial role in maintaining the supply of stem cells within the hair follicle, and graying is the result of “incomplete maintenance of melanocyte stem cells.?The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, and Nishimura received funding from The Shiseido Award in 2002 and The Charles A. King Trust of Fleet National Bank and The Medical Foundation.
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Source:Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


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