In Africa and Nigeria, grey hair is seen as a symbol of Wisdom, knowledge and experience that comes with age. However, changes in diets and lifestyle is increasing the number of young people with grey hairs and baldness across the country. A recent global study revealed that, around 6 to 23 percent of adults can expect to have at least 50 percent grey hair coverage by the age of 50.
While hair loss and greying are considered a normal part of aging by many, to others the conditions can be emotionally distressing especially the young. Hair loss or early greying of hair can be hereditary, in this case age does not play a significant role, it could also be as a result of an underlying medical condition typically vitamin B12 deficiency.
Researchers from the Harold Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, have stumbled on the process responsible for hair loss and greying, a discovery that could lead to the formulation and production of new treatments for the conditions.
The research which was originally intended to investigate a disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a genetic condition whereby tumors grow on nerves accidentally stumbled on the current findings. According to Dr. Lu Le Co-author of the research, the team found that once stem cells move to the base of the hair follicles, a protein known as KROX20 known for its role in nerve development is activated in skin cells that form hair shafts.
The researchers discovered that, upon the activation KROX20 , the hair progenitor cells produce SCF, which they discovered to be critical for hair pigmentation. In mice with skin cells that possessed both KROX20 and SCF, the researchers discovered that the skin cells communicated with melanocyte cells to form pigmented hairs. Melanocyte cells produce melanin, the pigment responsible for giving color to the skin, hair, and eyes. When the researchers removed SCF in the mice, the rodents grew grey hairs, which turned white with age. When KROX20-producing cells were erased, the mice did not grow any hair.
The researchers stated that, their discoveries indicate that abnormalities in the KROX20 and SCF play a major role in hair loss and greying, although they recommended further studies in humans in order to confirm the current results.Current treatment for grey hair is dominated by natural remedies which includes; amla otherwise known as Indian gooseberry, ginger, coconut oil, henna, and ribbed gourd (torai) black tea and curry leaves.
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