Johns Hopkins investigators have recently concluded a series of experiments which seem to successfully reverse hair whitening and hair loss as well as skin inflammation, all of which have also been linked together in previous studies of human diets heavy in cholesterol and fat.
The investigators confide that they used an experimental compound which seems to halt the production of certain fats which are known to be major components of skin and other cell membranes. These fats are called glycosphingolipids, or GSLs. The present research observed that mice who have been fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet are more likely to also have discoloration in their hair (from black to gray to white) as well as more extensive hair loss and skin inflammation (discerned by the preponderance of wounds). Alternately, when the investigators fed these same mice the investigatory compound, the symptoms reversed.
Of course, the Hopkins investigators advise that these results—in the mice—do not imply the same results would occur in human subjects who show similar symptoms. Indeed, for now, there is no evidence that the compounds used in the mice experiments will be safe for use in humans. Still, the findings do open a new pathway to possibly address hair loss and skin wounds through potential oral or topical medications.
According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor of pediatrics and medicine, Subroto Chatterjee, Ph.D., M.S., M.Sc., “Further research is needed, but our findings show promise for someday using the drug we developed for skin diseases such as psoriasis, and wounds resulting from diabetes or plastic surgery.”
Chatterjee also explains that the findings suggest a Western diet, explicitly, “causes hair loss, hair whitening, and skin inflammation in mice,” adding that he believes this process could be similar among men who lose their hair and who also experience hair whitening as the result of a lifestyle which includes a diet that is high in fat and cholesterol.
Of course, they now want to conduct more animal research in order to confirm and expand upon the present findings.
He concludes, “Hopefully someday in the future this can mean faster, more effective recovery from baldness, hair whitening in aging populations and wound healing.”