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Posted by bio_man   May 9, 2018   2275 views

An unexpected link in mice has been found between gray hair, the transcription factor MITF, and the innate immune in a recent study published in PLOS Biology.

First, a discussion on the innate immune system: The innate immune system is the immune system you're born with. This includes your skin and other barriers which prevent disease entering the body, in addition to specialized cells that activate inflammation in response to foreign invaders. Technically, every cell in your body except for red blood cells, are capable of generating an immune response, and this includes the production of a signaling protein known as interferon.

Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is best known for its role in regulating the many functions within melanocytes (cells responsible for generating melanin pigment). The researchers found that MITF serves to keep the melanocytes' interferon response in check. If MITF's control of the interferon response is lost in melanocyte stem cells, hair-graying results. Furthermore, if innate immune signaling is artificially activated in mice that are predisposed for getting gray hair, increased numbers of gray hairs are also produced.

The study's co-author mentioned that "this discovery suggests genes that control pigment in hair and skin also work to control the innate immune system." Not only does this discovery have implications in aging, the author is hopeful that "discovering this connection [can] help us understand pigmentation diseases with innate immune system involvement like vitiligo."

There are still many questions yet to be answered. Why mice that are predisposed for getting gray hair are more susceptible to dysregulated innate immune signaling remains a mystery. The researchers speculate that perhaps this can explain why some people experience premature gray hair early in life or during prolonged periods of stress.

hair graying mice transcription factor
Posted in Research
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I didn't know that
Posted on Jul 17, 2018 by Madresa
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