More research insight on gray hair and adult stem cell reproduction

In my earlier post How am I doing I said “All of this is just a start though.  I not only want a full head of hair; I want it to be black instead of gray.”   Also, in an earlier post Why does your hair turn gray? I described research that pointed to hydrogen peroxide as the culprit for hair turning gray.   Newly-reported research looks in a different direction and deeper, shedding light on the underlying cell-level cause of graying hair. Melanocytes are cells that live in hair follicles of mammals that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for hair color. Normally, the melanocytes gives hair its characteristic color of youth – black in my case.  (Melanin is also responsible for skin color and the color in moles, freckles, suntan and the cancer melanoma.  Older people may develop light or dark patches on their skin due to too-little or too-much melanin.)

The new research suggests that gray or white hair is due to age-related depletion of melanocytes which is a direct result of depletion of melanocyte stem-cells(MSCs) which in turn is the result of DNA damage.  It has been known for some time that “ – hair graying is caused by defective self-maintenance of MSCs(ref).”  These stem cells, also living in hair follicles, can normally both reproduce making new stem cells and differentiate into mature color-producing melanocytes. The new research based on experimentation with mice suggests that DNA damage to MSCs causes them to stop reproducing and instead terminally differentiate into melanocytes.  As the melanocytes in hair follicles die off, there are no new melanocytes to replace them because there are no more MSCs to make them.  The result is loss of hair color, in other words, white or gray hair.  The researchers discovered that when mice were exposed to intense radiation, MSCs stopped self-reproducing and terminally differentiated into melanocytes.  Consequently, the fur on the mice turned from brown to gray.  It is thought that the cessation of self-reproduction of genetically damaged MSCs could be an evolutionary protection against cancers.

Wanting black hair, this poses a challenge for me.  If my hair follicle MSCs have died off, how do I get them back?  There seems to be no short term answer though there may be one in the longer term.

It appears that there is a larger issue at stake here when it comes to aging.  The reader may want to review my discussion of the 14th theory of aging Decline in Adult Stem Cell Differentiation.  What the new research says with respect to that theory is 1. that there is not only the issue of decline in differentiation to be concerned with as part of aging but also an issue of stem cell self-renewal, and 2.  At least some stem cells stop self-renewal in the presence DNA damage.

Both immediate and long-term anti-aging interventions appear to be suggested.  In the immediate outlook the obvious approach is to use antioxidants to minimize DNA damage.  Millions of people are already doing this.  See the Cell DNA Damage theory of aging in my treatise as well as the associated firewall discussion.  For the longer term, it may be possible to induce Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) to selectively differentiate in a controlled manner into adult stem cells, including MSCs.  See the earlier post on this Blog Rebooting cells and longevity.  If a practical iPSC approach could be found to generating MSCs in hair follicles, I might get my black hair back.  Meanwhile I stay tuned for more research in this area.  I do not plan to use shoe polish.

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at www.vincegiuliano.com and an extensive site of my art at www.giulianoart.com. Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.
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6 Responses to More research insight on gray hair and adult stem cell reproduction

  1. Brian Hart says:

    Hello Vince, I came to be acquainted with your blog and other writings from ImmInst postings (specifically posts per Astral Fruit and Resveratrol). Thank you for sharing so openly your research, thoughts and experiences!!!

    I have a question and some of my own thoughts to share. In your post “how am I doing” you say that you are looking 10-20 years younger. According to a post you wrote, you started on Astral Fruit in August 2008. So my question is what was your appearance in August 08 versus now, or in July 2007 when you started Astragalus versus now? i.e. did you look your age at that time? To me recent comparisons would add more evidence to the idea that telomerase activation is doing something.

    Regarding your staying on Resveratrol and other telmerase inhibitors while taking Astral Fruit: Are you aware of Anthony Loera’s post where he says that his most recent tests showed no evidence of telemere lengthening resulting from his regimen of 33mg of Astral Fruit, while he was taking Resveratrol on the same day? With his new 100mg regimen he is no longer taking Resv on the same day…I think he is now weeks on/off cycling between telmerase inhibitors and activators, although from memory I don’t recall the exact timings he wrote.

    Here is a link that I hope you will find interesting:

    http://gizmodo.com/5277456/stem-cell-contact-lenses-cure-blindness-in-less-than-a-month

    Also, I’m very keen on good naming practices (which there doesn’t seem to be much of). Although biology is not my area, I found this article (titled: “Genomics Confounds Gene Classification”) to address the issue as it applies to Genetics: http://papers.gersteinlab.org/e-print/amsci/

    I think the article also serves as a good example illustrated for the layman, about the complexities of our cells. My thinking is that we need software that “learns” hierarchical, spacial, temporal, patterns in an invariant way…which is exactly what I’m working on BTW:) Such software when perfected could identify complex patterns probably more adeptly than humans can or at least point us to patterns that might require closer inspection. With the increases in Computing capabilities there are many things that can be tried today that couldn’t readily be tried even 5 years ago.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Brian

    Thanks for your encouragement. There is lots to chew on in your comment. To start:

    “I have a question and some of my own thoughts to share. In your post “how am I doing” you say that you are looking 10-20 years younger. According to a post you wrote, you started on Astral Fruit in August 2008. So my question is what was your appearance in August 08 versus now, or in July 2007 when you started Astragalus versus now? i.e. did you look your age at that time? To me recent comparisons would add more evidence to the idea that telomerase activation is doing something.”

    It is really tough to tell much by simply looking in a mirror because the judgements are so subjective. Looking at photos and video, it is very difficult to see any significant difference between now and those two dates you mention or even ten years ago except for the light patina of grey hair on top of my head. It was there 15 years ago, gone 4-5 years ago and is now back and seems to grow a little thicker each month. I really do not know if telomerase activation is “doing something” except for that effect and my general high level of energy, sense of wellbeing, productivity mental clarity, physical energy, etc. Some things in my regimen are “doing something” but it is very difficult to say what substance is doing what.

    “Regarding your staying on Resveratrol and other telmerase inhibitors while taking Astral Fruit: Are you aware of Anthony Loera’s post where he says that his most recent tests showed no evidence of telemere lengthening resulting from his regimen of 33mg of Astral Fruit, while he was taking Resveratrol on the same day? With his new 100mg regimen he is no longer taking Resv on the same day…I think he is now weeks on/off cycling between telmerase inhibitors and activators, although from memory I don’t recall the exact timings he wrote.”

    Yes. I carefully follow the Imminst blog on telomerase activation and know what Anthony writes. Personally, I have switched to the new 100mg astragaloside Astral Fruit but am still on a daily alternating pattern. My reasons are a)telomerase activation seems to confer benefits for activating the differentiation of stem cells through a mechanism independent of telomere extension (this is described in my treatise),b)I am not completely convinced that substances like resveratrol and curcumin inhibit the expression of telomerase in normal cells (see my recent post on this Blog Do resveratrol, curcumin and EGCG from green tea really inhibit the expression of telomerase?), and c) Resveratrol, curcumin and several substances purported to inhibit telomerase expression are key parts in my firewall against cancers. I do not want to let that firewall down for days at a time while at the same time taking a substance that does not cause cancers but could cause any small incipient cancers to go into high gear. So I am happy to keep taking Astral Fruit for the benefits it seems to be giving me as part of a daily routine.

    I will respond to the other points in your comment in a separate comment.

  3. admin says:

    Brian

    With regard to the second half of your comment:

    “Here is a link that I hope you will find interesting:
    http://gizmodo.com/5277456/stem-cell-contact-lenses-cure-blindness-in-less-than-a-month
    Also, I’m very keen on good naming practices (which there doesn’t seem to be much of). Although biology is not my area, I found this article (titled: “Genomics Confounds Gene Classification”) to address the issue as it applies to Genetics: http://papers.gersteinlab.org/e-print/amsci/

    I will definitely have a look at those two items. Possibly they can grist for future blog posts.

    “I think the article also serves as a good example illustrated for the layman, about the complexities of our cells. My thinking is that we need software that “learns” hierarchical, spacial, temporal, patterns in an invariant way…which is exactly what I’m working on BTW:) Such software when perfected could identify complex patterns probably more adeptly than humans can or at least point us to patterns that might require closer inspection. With the increases in Computing capabilities there are many things that can be tried today that couldn’t readily be tried even 5 years ago.”

    I absolutely agree, having published one of the first papers relating to character recognition way back in the 60s, a technique that made size and orientation of characters invariant. I also worked in the field of adaptive learning. (To see some of my early work do a Google search on “Vincent Giuliano character recognition). For the task you suggest I think part of the challenge is specifying the invariancies. Any references to your work you could put me onto?

  4. Brian Hart says:

    Hi Vince,
    I googled on you and saw tons of results…you are very accomplished. As for my work, there is nothing published…I’m keeping private about it right now. In a few more months I might open source what I’m developing (particularly if the challenge of what I’m attempting expands), or I might decide to keep the algorithyms as trade secrets, and seek for a large company to partner with.

    Sorry that I can’t be more specific about what I’m doing but please take a look at Numenta.com The founder Jeff Hawkins wrote a very fine & interesting book in the Nueroscience domain called “On Intelligence”. Also, here is a link to a thought provoking paper I came across: http://vesicle.nsi.edu/users/izhikevich/publications/spnet.pdf

    Per your comment about specifying invariances, I suggest that a system must intrinsically allow for invariance.

    BTW, if I do achieve some results, I’ll let you know:)

  5. Brian Hart says:

    Oh I thought I’d comment again. I’m very excited about the increasing processing power were seeing in PCs these days. As well as the expanding memory capacities. I find it amazing that for about $2.3K I can get a system with 4 general purpose processing cores (8 threads), 12GB of RAM with very fast 25GB+/sec bandwidth, a couple of TBs of Harddrive space, and 3 GPU boards with 480 processor cores each (total 1440 and ~5.4GB of additional GPU memory w/ 223.8 GB/sec bandwidth per card). This is pretty much a super computer of just a few years back. If you haven’t heard of CUDA before you might google it and check it out. Right now I’m not using CUDA (rather just multi-threaded code), but I plan to.

  6. admin says:

    Hi Brian

    I will read the Izhikevich article. I am sure neural network theory and simulation work has come a very long way since the time when I was following it.

    You are right-on with respect to being able to order a supercomputer online for less than $2,500. Moore’s Law at work here. Have you seen my post on this blog of Giuliano’s Law where I argue that anti-aging technology is following a similar exponential curve of ever-increasing power? I generated three posts on this topic If you search the March postings on the left-hand bar, you can find them there.

    As to CUDA, I was not familiar with it but with computers becoming commonplace with 8, 16 or 32 threads, there is a growing need for a better programming architecture that can take advantage of multicore systems. Good for Nvidia for pioneering CUDA. If I were still in the software game, I would be very excited by this development. And given the mind-boggling combinatorial analyses tasks that exist in the field of computational genomics, every bit of the multi-threaded power can be put to very good use.

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