Hair graying is a representative sign of aging in animals and humans. However, the mechanism for hair graying with aging remains largely unknown. In this study, we found that the microscopic appearance of hair follicles without melanocyte stem cells (MSCs) and descendant melanocytes as well as macroscopic appearances of hair graying in RET-transgenic mice carrying RET oncogene (RET-mice) are in accordance with previously reported results for hair graying in humans. Therefore, RET-mice could be a novel model mouse line for age-related hair graying. We further showed hair graying with aging in RET-mice associated with RET-mediated acceleration of hair cycles, increase of senescent follicular keratinocyte stem cells (KSCs), and decreased expression levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1) in bulges, decreased endothelin receptor B (Ednrb) expression in MSCs, resulting in a decreased number of follicular MSCs. We then showed that hair graying in RET-mice was accelerated by congenitally decreased Ednrb expression in MSCs in heterozygously Ednrb-deleted RET-mice [Ednrb(+/−);RET-mice]. We finally partially confirmed common mechanisms of hair graying with aging in mice and humans. Taken together, our results suggest that age-related dysfunction between ET-1 in follicular KSCs and endothelin receptor B (Ednrb) in follicular MSCs via cumulative hair cycles is correlated with hair graying with aging.
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