Many people complain about hair loss, thin hair and even baldness. It is a problem of many age groups and the reason behind this problem has been discovered by scientists. Researchers believe that everyone whose hair is diminishing or getting thinner, is because of the stem cells sitting on their scalp.

These stem cells get confused and therefore, don’t do their job. They are present in everyone’s scalp and are basically there to transform into different types of cells. The stem cells usually become hair follicles when they mature. Scientists identified that these cells have the tendency to turn into skin instead of becoming a hair follicle. It is due to the ageing factor that their DNA changes. The change in the DNA of a cell forces it to adopt a different way and therefore, many a time it turns into skin cells. These cells on the scalp mature in a systematic manner.

The activity of these stem cells captured the scientists’ attention, which caused them to study it further. They conducted a test on mice who were getting old. It was concluded that as the cell grows old, the DNA gets affected by its ablation. A protein named Collagen gets wrecked due to the ageing of the stem cells.

Collagen sends signals to the cells to move in a particular direction. As it is damaged, the cells do not get the signal they require and develop in different ways. This confusion leads the stem cells to grow into epidermal keratocytes rather than hair follicles. These skin cells move away from the hair follicle area to the scalp.

Hair fall

The major setback of these stem cells turning into skin cells is that there is no replacement for them. No new cells grow to take their place, which leads to narrowing hair follicles. The follicle gets smaller day by day and after a while, it fades away by forming part of the scalp skin.

Researchers also confirmed if the same condition applies to humans. They tested scalps of several women between the age of 22 to 70. It was noticed that women who were 50 or above had weak and small hair follicles. Their hair also lacked protein collagen, similar to the mice.

Professor Emi Nishimura from Tokyo medical and dental university described: “We assume that … ageing processes and mechanisms [similar to those in the mice] explain the human age-associated hair-thinning and hair loss.” It is believed that collagen 17A1 is the reason of hair fall and can provide with an estimated count of hair loss that should be expected in the future.

Scientists further studied into the matter and revealed that there is a molecule that can help examine the cell cycle of the hair. It is a protein known as Foxc1, and is found in hair follicles  that are active. The Foxc1 was obstructed in hair cells of mice and concluded that it is helpful in settling the cells down after their activity. Dr Rui Yi, of the University of Colorado Boulder, said: “After the cells start to duplicate, they say, ‘mission accomplished, let’s go back to quiescence. Let’s wait for the next time.”