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Stress really makes your hair gray, scientists find

Publicado em 23 janeiro 2020

“New evidence” has been uncovered that shows how acute stress can lead to prematurely gray hair, the scientists said.

 

The research, which was published in the journal Nature, was led by a team from Harvard University in Massachusetts in the United States.

While studying the pain experienced by mice when injected with the resiniferatoxin toxin, they found that the subjects’ fur had turned white in a four-week period.

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This inspired them to delve into the role of stress in making hair turn gray at an accelerated speed.

Scientists exposed the mice to different types of stressors, including pain, psychological stress and moderation.

Read more

Each stressor has been found to cause a depleted number of melanocyte stem cells (MeSC).

Melanocyte cells, which are found on each individual hair follicle, produce the pigment melanin, which determines the color of the hair.

A person’s supply of MeSC decreases over time, causing his hair to turn gray or white as he ages.

While previous research has shown an association between stress and premature graying, the exact biological mechanism has remained uncertain.

During their study, Harvard researchers noted that the stress experienced by the mice activated their sympathetic nervous system, triggering the release of the norepinephrine neurotransmitter.

 

1/32 Jaden Smith

He may still be a teenager, but a life in the spotlight has subjected Smith to many hair transformations, changing them from this do …

PA Archive / PA Images

2/32 Jaden Smith

… to a more stripped blond hum.

Aurore Marechal / PA Wire

3/32 Katy Perry

Known for its avant-garde aesthetic, the pop sensation of the United States has a penchant for hairstyle, starting from this look inspired by Betty Boop …

PA Archive / PA Images

4/32 Katy Perry

… to a dynamic and slick dynamism.

Getty Images

5/32 Emma Roberts

The American actor is playful with his red carpet appearance and can show off a number of different styles like this simple blonde bob …

Getty Images

6/32 Emma Roberts

… and this rigid cut fringe. Few could carry such a hard style with Roberts’ girlish charm.

Getty Images

7/32 Ariana Grande

The American singer has locks as long as Rapunzel, but is inclined to confuse her look from time to time by removing it from her face in a no-frills way like this …

Getty Images

8/32 Ariana Grande

… and a super high ponytail like this.

PA Archive / PA Images

9/32 Margot Robbie

The Australian actor is not so easily recognizable with his blackberry locks …

POPE

10/32 Margot Robbie

… because we are much more used to seeing her show off her distinctive blonde closures, designed here in one fell swoop.

POPE

11/32 Kim Kardashian

The reality star was known for her distinctive brown padlocks …

Alamy Stock photo

12/32 Kim Kardashian

… until he shocked the world looking for a platinum bob.

Characteristics of Rex

13/32 Kate Hudson

The Hollywood star had become synonymous with perfect hair like Princess Marigold …

Alamy Stock photo

14/32 Kate Hudson

… before having shaved everything for a role, revealing her natural mousy blonde hair color.

Characteristics of Rex

15/32 Dear Delevingne

The model transformed into an actress has exchanged the shades of caramel honey …

Alamy Stock photo

16/32 Dear Delevingne

… for an androgynous goblin cut in 2017.

Rex

17/32 Zoe Kravitz

The Big Little Lies star has gone from cascading blocks …

Alamy

18/32 Zoe Kravitz

… to a platinum buzz ready for the rockstar.

Rex

19/32 Emma Stone

Naturally blonde, Stone has revealed that she is more in demand after dying her hair …

Rex

20/32 Emma Stone

… leading many to believe she was a natural redhead.

Rex

21/32 Harry Styles

The former One Direction frontman allowed his hair to become wild and free in his boyband days …

Alamy

22/32 Harry Styles

… but he switched to a more mature and shorter cut when he started his solo career.

Alamy

23/32 Kylie Jenner

The star of reality is not to be avoided by dramatic hair transformations …

Rex

24/32 Kylie Jenner

… and this yellow highlighter shade is no different.

Rex

25/32 Justin Timberlake

The singer and actor have come a long way since the time of the curly haired N’Sync …

Alamy

26/32 Justin Timberlake

… showing off a more refined and backward look at the Cannes film festival.

Alamy

27/32 Zayn Malik

The young heartbreaker broke the hearts of thousands of people when he changed his classic band haircut for long, floppy hair …

Rex

28/32 Zayn Malik

… for a high fashion platinum buzzcut.

Rex

29/32 Miley Cyrus

The American singer and actor has worn many hairstyles over the years, going from strawberry blonde Hannah Montana to small …

Alamy

30/32 Miley Cyrus

… to an elf inspired by David Bowie in 2013.

Alamy

31/32 Natalie Portman

The actor was famous for his close-shaven buzz, worn for V for Vendetta …

Alamy

32/32 Natalie Portman

… but since then she has refreshed her locks to show off a more flowing style, which touches the shoulders, showing how her hair has grown, because sometimes she does.

Alamy

1/32 Jaden Smith

He may still be a teenager, but a life in the spotlight has subjected Smith to many hair transformations, changing them from this do …

PA Archive / PA Images

2/32 Jaden Smith

… to a more stripped blond hum.

Aurore Marechal / PA Wire

3/32 Katy Perry

Known for its avant-garde aesthetic, the pop sensation of the United States has a penchant for hairstyle, starting from this look inspired by Betty Boop …

PA Archive / PA Images

4/32 Katy Perry

… to a dynamic and slick dynamism.

Getty Images

5/32 Emma Roberts

The American actor is playful with his red carpet appearance and can show off a number of different styles like this simple blonde bob …

Getty Images

6/32 Emma Roberts

… and this rigid cut fringe. Few could carry such a hard style with Roberts’ girlish charm.

Getty Images

7/32 Ariana Grande

The American singer has locks as long as Rapunzel, but is inclined to confuse her look from time to time by removing it from her face in a no-frills way like this …

Getty Images

8/32 Ariana Grande

… and a super high ponytail like this.

PA Archive / PA Images

9/32 Margot Robbie

The Australian actor is not so easily recognizable with his blackberry locks …

POPE

10/32 Margot Robbie

… because we are much more used to seeing her show off her distinctive blonde closures, designed here in one fell swoop.

POPE

11/32 Kim Kardashian

The reality star was known for her distinctive brown padlocks …

Alamy Stock photo

12/32 Kim Kardashian

… until he shocked the world looking for a platinum bob.

Characteristics of Rex

13/32 Kate Hudson

The Hollywood star had become synonymous with perfect hair like Princess Marigold …

Alamy Stock photo

14/32 Kate Hudson

… before having shaved everything for a role, revealing her natural mousy blonde hair color.

Characteristics of Rex

15/32 Dear Delevingne

The model transformed into an actress has exchanged the shades of caramel honey …

Alamy Stock photo

16/32 Dear Delevingne

… for an androgynous goblin cut in 2017.

Rex

17/32 Zoe Kravitz

The Big Little Lies star has gone from cascading blocks …

Alamy

18/32 Zoe Kravitz

… to a platinum buzz ready for the rockstar.

Rex

19/32 Emma Stone

Naturally blonde, Stone has revealed that she is more in demand after dyeing her hair …

Rex

20/32 Emma Stone

… leading many to believe she was a natural redhead.

Rex

21/32 Harry Styles

The former One Direction frontman allowed his hair to become wild and free in his boyband days …

Alamy

22/32 Harry Styles

… but he switched to a more mature and shorter cut when he started his solo career.

Alamy

23/32 Kylie Jenner

The star of reality is not to be avoided by dramatic hair transformations …

Rex

24/32 Kylie Jenner

… and this yellow highlighter shade is no different.

Rex

25/32 Justin Timberlake

The singer and actor have come a long way since the time of the curly haired N’Sync …

Alamy

26/32 Justin Timberlake

… showing off a more refined and backward look at the Cannes film festival.

Alamy

27/32 Zayn Malik

The young heartbreaker broke the hearts of thousands of people when he changed his classic band haircut for long, floppy hair …

Rex

28/32 Zayn Malik

… for a high fashion platinum buzzcut.

Rex

29/32 Miley Cyrus

The American singer and actor has worn many hairstyles over the years, going from strawberry blonde Hannah Montana to small …

Alamy

30/32 Miley Cyrus

… to an elf inspired by David Bowie in 2013.

Alamy

31/32 Natalie Portman

The actor was famous for his close-shaven buzz, worn for V for Vendetta …

Alamy

32/32 Natalie Portman

… but since then she has refreshed her locks to show off a more flowing style, which touches the shoulders, showing how her hair has grown, because sometimes she does.

Alamy

The team found that the release of norepinephrine caused MeSC to “move away” from the hair follicles, causing the hair to turn gray accordingly.

Dr Ya-Chieh Hsu, Harvard professor of regenerative biology and senior author of the study, said that the study lays “the foundation for understanding how stress affects other body tissues and organs.”

“Understanding how our tissues change under stress is the key first step towards any treatment that can halt or restore the harmful impact of stress,” said Dr. Hsu, adding: “We still have a lot to learn in this area.”

In addition to assessing the impact of norepinephrine neurotransmitter release, the researchers also found that when mice were exposed to stress in their experiments, a specific gene caused the encoding of a protein called CDK.

When the mice were injected with a drug that hinders CDK encoding, this prevented their fur from turning white.

Dr Thiago Mattar Cunha, coauthor of the study and researcher of the Research Center on Inflammatory Diseases in São Paulo, Brazil, explained the significance of this discovery.

“This finding shows that CDK participates in the process and could therefore be a therapeutic target,” said Dr. Cunha

“It is too early to know if one day it will become a goal in clinical practice, but it is worth exploring further.”

The researchers said that although their findings may not provide a cure for gray hair, it is important to help understand how stress impacts various areas of the body.

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