Skin and hair ageing found to be reversible

Scientists have discovered that skin and hair ageing can be reversed in mice.

A team led by Keshav Singh from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US found that they could turn ageing on and off in a mouse model by controlling mitochondrial function.

The primary role of mitochondria is to produce energy within a cell, and the researchers found that by disabling this function through introducing a substance – the antibiotic doxycycline – that blocks the replication of mitochondrial DNA, they could induce accelerated ageing evident through wrinkled skin and extensive hair loss.

When the scientists restored mitochondria function the mice returned to smooth skin and thick fur just one month after doxycycline was stopped. During the mutation period the mice showed wrinkled skin, slowed movements, grey, thinning hair and hair loss.

In particular, the scientists observed a disruption in the process that maintains collagen fibres in the skin and prevent wrinkling.

Other effects included increased numbers of skin cells, abnormal thickening of the outer layer and increased inflammation, suggesting that mitochondria plays an important role in skin. The scientists said they observed little change in other organs during the experiments.

The study concluded that mitochondria are reversible regulators of skin ageing and hair loss. Singh commented: β€œIt suggests that epigenetic mechanisms underlying mitochondria-to-nucleus cross-talk must play an important role in the restoration of normal skin and hair phenotype.”