Specific type of stress could turn hair gray

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Kathmandu, January 23

Researchers from Harvard University claimed that specific type of stress associated with the brain’s fight-or-flight response could be the reason behind turning the hair gray.

According to the researchers, when people experience this type of stress it causes a sympathetic nerve response that activates the stem cells responsible for coloring the hair.

"Our study demonstrates that neuronal activity that is induced by acute stress can drive a rapid and permanent loss of somatic stem cells, and illustrates an example in which the maintenance of somatic stem cells is directly influenced by the overall physiological state of the organism," according to the Harvard team’s research paper.

As per the Next Web, the researchers put laboratory mice under three different types of stress: physical restraint, physical pain, and psychological distress. Each stressor caused the mice to develop gray/white hair.

The researchers then began troubleshooting to see what was actually causing the grayness. Suspecting adrenal glands were the cause, they ran the tests again on mice with theirs removed. Those mice still experienced graying, so they tried again with other hormonal processes inhibited. Eventually, the researchers discerned that a sympathetic nervous response was causing the stem cell overload responsible for the gray hairs. Once they blocked that response, the mice stopped going gray.

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