Posts Tagged ‘Free Radicals’

The FASEB Journal 2006 – Towards a “free radical theory of graying” …

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

The FASEB Journal 2006;20:1567-1569.

Towards a “free radical theory of graying”: melanocyte apoptosis in the aging human hair follicle is an indicator of oxidative stress induced tissue damage

Petra Clara Arck†,1, Rupert Overall*,1, Katharina Spatz*, Christiane Liezman*, Bori Handjiski†, Burghard F. Klapp‡, Mark A. Birch-Machin§ and Eva Milena Johanne Peters*,1

* Cutaneous Neuroimmunology, Biomedical Research Center, University Medicine Charité, Virchow and Mitte Campus;

† Psychoneuroimmunology, Biomedical Research Center, University Medicine Charité, Virchow Campus; and

‡ Internal Medicine, Psychosomatics, University Medicine Charité, Mitte Campus, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and

§ Dermatology, Medical School, University of Newcastle, UK

1Correspondence: Biomedical Research Center, Rm. Nr. 2.0549, University Medicine Charité, Virchow Campus, Humboldt University of Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin 13353, Germany. E-mail: or


Oxidative stress is generated by a multitude of environmental and endogenous challenges such as radiation, inflammation, or psychoemotional stress. It also speeds the aging process. Graying is a prominent but little understood feature of aging.

Intriguingly, the continuous melanin synthesis in the growing (anagen) hair follicle generates high oxidative stress. We therefore hypothesize that hair bulb melanocytes are especially susceptible to free radical-induced aging. To test this hypothesis, we subjected human scalp skin anagen hair follicles from graying individuals to macroscopic and immunohistomorphometric analysis and organ culture. We found evidence of melanocyte apoptosis and increased oxidative stress in the pigmentary unit of graying hair follicles.


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