February 23, 2009

Lack of enzymes turns hair gray

A team of European researchers says hair grays with age as follicles become bleached first gray, and then white, from within.

The researchers closely examined cell cultures of human hair follicles and found in the absence of the enzyme catalase, the hydrogen peroxide naturally produced in hair cells stops being broken down into water and oxygen. Also, hair follicles could not repair the damage caused by the accumulating hydrogen peroxide because of low levels of enzymes MSR A and B.

High levels of hydrogen peroxide and low levels of MSR A and B also disrupted the formation of the enzyme tyrosinase that leads to the production of the melanin which colors hair, corresponding author Karin Schallreuter of the University of Bradford in England said.

Melanin is the pigment responsible for skin color as well.

The study has been published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.