WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 25, 2009 -- Scientists may have figured out why hair turns gray, and
their finding may open the door to new anti-graying strategies.
New research shows that hair turns gray as a result of a chemical chain
reaction that causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
The process starts when there is a dip in levels of an enzyme called
catalase. That catalase shortfall means that the hydrogen peroxide that
naturally occurs in hair can't be broken down. So hydrogen peroxide builds up
in the hair, and because other enzymes that would repair hydrogen peroxide's
damage are also in short supply, the hair goes gray.
Putting the brakes on that chemical chain reaction "could have great
implications in the hair graying scenario in humans," write the
researchers, who included Karin Schallreuter, a professor clinical and
experimental dermatology at England's University of Bradford.
The study appears online in The FASEB Journal; the FASEB is the
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
SOURCES:Wood, J. The FASEB Journal, Feb. 23, 2009; online edition.News release, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
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