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While popular belief harbors little doubt that perceived stress can cause hair loss and premature graying, the scientific evidence for this is arguably much thinner. Here, we investigate whether these phenomena are real, and show that the cyclic growth and pigmentation of the hair follicle (HF) provides a tractable model system for dissecting how perceived stress modulates aspects of human physiology. Local production of stress-associated neurohormones and neurotrophins coalesces with neurotransmitters and neuropeptides released from HF-associated sensory and autonomic nerve endings, forming a complex local stress-response system that regulates perifollicular neurogenic inflammation, interacts with the HF microbiome and controls mitochondrial function. This local system integrates into the central stress response systems, allowing the study of systemic stress responses affecting organ function by quantifying stress mediator content of hair. Focusing on selected mediators in this "brain-HF axis" under stress conditions, we distill general principles of HF dysfunction induced by perceived stress.Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.


James D B O'Sullivan, Eva M J Peters, Yomna Amer, Pranusha Atuluru, Jérémy Chéret, Ayelet Rosenberg, Martin Picard, Ralf Paus. The impact of perceived stress on the hair follicle: Towards solving a psychoneuroendocrine and neuroimmunological puzzle. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology. 2022 Jun 02:101008

PMID: 35660551

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