During the past few years, a significant amount of research has taken place regarding hair color and hair loss. This is a significant quality of life concern for men and women all over the world, and researchers appear to have discovered a significant protein that plays a role and why some hair turns gray and falls out faster than others. Did you know that hair follicle stem cells and melanocyte stem cells depend on collagen protein for color and longevity?

In the vast majority of stem cell systems, the matrix required for stem cell maintenance is largely unknown. This maintenance is important because it encourages the longevity of cells of varying types. The researchers, who published a study in CellPress focused on a specific collagen protein that is critical to hair follicle stem cells, which play a role in hair growth and color. The researchers and color that a specific collagen protein, called collagen XVII, is responsible not only for the maintenance of hair follicle stem cells but also for melanocytes themselves. They adhere directly to hair follicle stem cells, and they play a role in hair color and growth.

The researchers uncovered that when mice do not have this specific collagen protein, they experience premature hair graying and hair loss. The researchers believe that this could be why some people suffer premature hair graying and hair loss as well, as there are some similarities between mice and people.

Without this specific collagen protein, the self-renewal process of hair follicle stem cells is disrupted. As a result, hair color and longevity might not be adequately maintained, and that could be why some humans develop issues with their hair as well. Furthermore, when the researchers went on to force the expression of this collagen protein, the deficiencies appear to go away in mice. It rescues them from premature hair graying and hair loss.

The researchers believe that more studies are required to figure out exactly why this collagen protein is so important to both mice and humans; however, it could provide a potential pathway for discovering why some people are prone to losing their hair, or their hair color, faster than others. It will be interesting to see what future studies uncover and if they lead to a potential clinical breakthrough.