The chameleon effect: scientists explain how and why we turn gray from stress

We all know that graying of hair is not only ageing, but also with stress. “I almost gray,” say many, describing the experiences a shock. However, to explain the relationship between stress and graying from a scientific point of view was only recently a group of scientists from Harvard University. About it writes BBC.

Эффект хамелеона: ученые объяснили, как и почему мы седеем от стресса

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Same principle applies when a chameleon changes color. This happens in the moment of danger, when the animal is under stress. Flying dragons (a type of lizard) also in the time of stress increases the level of dark grey pigment.

In humans, the mechanism responsible for the color of our hair originates in mesenchymal stem cells (MeSC). They release the melanocytes that migrate to the base of the hair follicle, and there produce the pigment melanin, and he, in turn, color our hair.

This process is not normally terminated. This is clearly seen on the example of artificially colored in a different color of hair: growing the roots have a color that is given to man by nature.

When the body is experiencing a negative emotional shock on one of the stages of this process, the system fails, and instead of our natural color hair follicles get a dose of grey pigment.

How is this happening?

Pain and fear

The experiment was conducted on rats, who were forced to endure the stress caused by physical pain. The pain caused a reaction of gipervozbujdenia, which is also called fight or flight (fight or flight). This effect is intensified in rats the production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine is responsible for attention and impulse to action and is associated with MeSC. As soon as the rat felt pain, she had the release of noradrenaline, the stem cells of melanocytes began in an accelerated mode to multiply, migrate and depleted.

The stock of MeSC, which is limited, decreased, and fewer in the body MeSC, the less quality the melanocytes involved in the pigmentation of the hair.

Unlike animals, people, in addition to physical pain, capable of experiencing mental anguish, severe emotional turmoil and a long, in-depth experience. Therefore, failures in the process of pigmentation of our hair can occur more often.

The famous story of how 20-year olds fully saddles in war. Based on the famous film by elem Klimov, “Come and see” — history of the Belarusian teenager who, after witnessing a punitive operation, a couple of days hoary, old man.

In the process of human aging is the depletion of the stock of MeSC happens with age naturally, and the person starts to turn gray.

In more rare cases, the early appearance of gray hair due to hereditary predisposition.

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