Experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that oxidative stress plays a major role in the ageing process. Reactive oxygen species are generated by a multitude of endogenous and environmental challenges. Reactive oxygen species or free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can directly damage cellular structural membranes, lipids, proteins, and DNA. The body possesses endogenous defence mechanisms, such as antioxidative enzymes and non-enzymatic antioxidative molecules, protecting it from free radicals by reducing and neutralizing them. With age, the production of free radicals increases, while the endogenous defence mechanisms decrease. This imbalance leads to the progressive damage of cellular structures, presumably resulting in the ageing phenotype. Ageing of hair manifests as decrease of melanocyte function or graying, and decrease in hair production or alopecia. There is circumstantial evidence that oxidative stress may be a pivotal mechanism contributing to hair graying and hair loss. New insights into the role and prevention of oxidative stress could open new strategies for intervention and reversal of the hair graying process and age-dependent alopecia.
Keywords: Androgenetic alopecia; graying; oral antioxidative supplementation therapy; oxidative stress; senescent alopecia; topical melatonin.