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Gene associated with graying hair identified

EFEFUTURO.- Graying hair has a genetic component and is not only the result of environmental factors, a study published in the journal Nature Communications said.

La actriz británica Judi Dench. EFE/Filip Singer

La actriz británica Judi Dench. EFE/Filip Singer

The study conducted by experts from several institutions, including Spain’s University of Oviedo, University College London, Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University and Colombia’s University of Antioquia, analyzed samples from more than 6,000 people.

Volunteers from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru had different genetic backgrounds and the goal was to identify genes associated with hair color, density, shape and graying.

“We were looking at beard density, eyebrow density and monobrow,” UCL’s Kaustubh Adhikari, who helped lead the study, said. “We were looking at hair color, hair shape, gray hair and balding. For each of them, we found a set of genes that define these features”.

The gene associated with graying, IRF4, plays an important role in determining hair color; however, this is the first time it has been linked to the growing of white hair.

The same gene is involved in regulating the production and storing of melanin, the pigment coloring hair, skin and eyes.

The study’s findings could “help to develop DNA techniques in forensic medicine,” whose purpose is to reconstruct visual profiles based on an individual’s genetic makeup.

Researchers found that another gene, PRSS53, has an influence on hair shape and texture, while the FOXL2 gene is associated with eyebrow thickness and PAX3 with the prevalence of hair between eyebrows. EFEfuturo
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