A new study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine sheds light on the process of hair graying and could potentially offer a pathway to reverse or prevent it.
The research focused on melanocyte stem cells (McSCs), which control hair color by maturing into pigment-producing cells.
The study found that these cells have a unique ability to move between growth compartments in hair follicles, but they can get stuck as people age, losing their ability to maintain hair color.
The researchers discovered that as hair ages, increasing numbers of McSCs become trapped in the hair follicle bulge and do not mature or regenerate into pigment cells. This loss of McSC motility and reversible differentiation may be responsible for hair graying.
The study, published in Nature, utilized 3D-intravital-imaging and scRNA-seq techniques to track cells as they aged and moved within hair follicles.
The research team plans to investigate ways of restoring McSC motility or physically moving them back to their germ compartment, where they can produce pigment.