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How stress stops hair growth (in mice) – Livescience.com

When faced with incredible stress, people sometimes shed hair by the handful, but scientists don’t know exactly why that is. Now, a new study in mice offers a clue: Stress hormones may put hair growth on pause.   

Follicles, the specialized organs that sprout hairs, cycle through “growth” and “rest” stages, where the follicle first actively produces new hair and then falls dormant. In mice, chronically high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone — similar to the human hormone cortisol — keep follicles in the rest stage for longer than usual, according to the new study, published March 31 in the journal Nature. This response prevents hair follicles from entering the growth stage, during which stem cells in the follicle produce new hair.

Specifically, corticosterone halts hair growth by plugging into a receptor on cells that sit beneath the base of each follicle and release chemicals to regulate the hair cycle. Once plugged in, corticosterone blocks production of a protein called GAS6; without GAS6, the hair follicle stem cells can’t activate to start growing hair. 

Related: 5 ways your cells deal with stress 

“So instead of regulating stem cells directly, chronic stress affects the expression of stem cell activating signals,” senior author Ya-Chieh Hsu, an associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University, told Live Science in an email. 

This chain reaction may play out slightly differently in human hair follicles, but the mechanism may be very similar, because rodent corticosterone and human cortisol belong to the same family of hormones and interact with the same kind of receptors, she said. “In humans, hairs in the resting phase can shed off more easily than the hairs in [the growth phase],” which might explain how stress leads to hair loss, Hsu noted.  

“If the finding can be translated in humans, they have to show that cortisol can push growing hair follicles into the rest phase,” said Rui Yi, a professor in the departments of pathology and dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. 

If the mechanism pinpointed in mice also applies to people, “in principle,” treatments could potentially be developed to prevent stress-induced hair loss, Yi told Live Science. But before jumping into new treatments, scientists will need to sort out any differences between the mouse model and humans, he said. 

As for mice, “scientifically, it’s a really complete story;” the authors traced each link in the chain reaction that resulted in hair growth changes, Yi said.

In the study, Hsu and her colleagues first stalled all stress hormone production in a group of mice by removing the animals’ adrenal glands — an endocrine organ that produces stress hormones. These mice’s hair follicles entered the growth stage about three times as often as unmodified control mice. In addition, their rest phase significantly shortened, lasting less than 20 days, compared with the usual 60 to 100 days in normal mice.   

The study authors found that, if they fed the modified mice corticosterone, their hair follicle cycle fell back in step with that of normal mice. This hinted that the hormone somehow suppressed their exuberant hair growth. The authors tested this idea in normal mice by exposing them to mild stressors on-and-off for nine weeks and found that, as the stressed animals’ corticosterone levels rose, their normal hair growth became stunted.

Seeing this link between hormone levels and hair growth, the authors zoomed in on the hair follicle itself, to see whether corticosterone directly interacts with the stem cells inside. The hormone plugs into the so-called “glucocorticoid receptor,” so the authors selectively deleted that receptor in different cells involved in hair growth and then applied corticosterone to the mice. 

Removing the receptor from hair-follicle stem cells made no difference; the hormone still stunted hair growth. However, when the team deleted the receptor from nearby dermal papilla cells, hair growth proceeded as usual, without an extended rest phase. So whatever causes the hair growth to pause, it must work at the dermal papilla, the authors thought.

The team subsequently found that normal dermal papilla cells stop producing GAS6 when exposed to corticosterone. They also found that GAS6 usually plugs into hair-follicle stem cells and switches them on, jump-starting hair growth. But without the protein, hair follicles remain at rest. Likewise, injecting GAS6 directly into a mouse’s skin can trigger hair growth, even if the animal is stressed and has elevated corticosterone levels, the team found.

It’s possible, in theory, that GAS6 or a highly similar protein could also trigger hair growth in stressed-out humans, Yi said. But several big questions must be answered first.

For one, although corticosterone and cortisol are chemically similar, we don’t know that they play the exact same role in rodent and human hair cycles, Yi said. Additionally, the rodent and human hair cycles unfold on very different timelines. As mice reach maturity, the rest stage of their hair follicles grows longer and longer, he said. And by the time a mouse is about 1.5 years old, the majority of its hair follicles remain at rest most of the time, meaning its hair stops growing.

“You never see any mice go to the barber shop,” Yi said.

In comparison, about 90% of adult human hair follicles can be in the growth stage at any given time, Yi wrote in an independent commentary on the study, also published March 31 in Nature. Given that the mouse study only showed how stress hormones can prolong the rest state and prevent growth from starting, it will be interesting to see whether cortisol can not only prolong the rest state in humans, but also force actively growing hair back into the rest state, Yi said.

And finally, while hair usually sheds during the rest state, it’s unknown exactly why the dormant hair becomes unmoored from the scalp, Yi said. So, in addition to preventing hair growth, perhaps stress somehow loosens the hair from its place, he said. But that’s another mechanism to explore.

While many questions remain to be answered, the mouse study does hint at potential solutions for stress-induced hair loss that could someday be explored in people. “I can imagine manipulations related to the GAS6 pathways might have potential, if the findings are confirmed in humans in the future,” Hsu said. The mouse study represents a “first critical step” toward developing those treatments, she said.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Here is Minnesotas COVID-19 update for Wednesday, March 31 – Bring Me The News

Wednesday’s COVID update from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) includes 1,660 new cases and 12 new deaths. 

The 12 new deaths increases the state’s death toll to (6,848) over the course of the pandemic. Of the total deaths, 62.4% (4,275) were residents of long-term care.

Through Mar. 29, the state reported that 1,658,176 people have received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 1,031,749 people have completed their vaccine series.

Thirty-eight percent of Minnesotans aged 16-plus have received at least one shot.

MDH has a public dashboard to track vaccine progress in Minnesota, and you can view it here.

Hospitalizations

Through Mar. 30, the number of people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Minnesota was 411, which is up from 357 reported Tuesday.

Of those hospitalized through Mar. 30, 102 people were in intensive care (up from 89 reported Tuesday) and 309 were receiving non-ICU treatment (up from 268).

Testing and positivity rates

The 1,660 positive results in Wednesday’s update were from 22,481 completed tests, creating a daily test positivity rate of 7.38%

According to Johns Hopkins University, Minnesota’s test positivity rate over the past seven days is 5.91%.

The World Health Organization recommends that a percent positive rate (total positives divided by total completed tests) of below 5% for at least two weeks is necessary to safely reopen the economy. That 5% threshold is based on total positives divided by total tests.

Coronavirus in Minnesota by the numbers

  • Total tests: 8,211,019 (up from 8,189,529)
  • People tested: 3,689,024 (up from 3,683,495)
  • People with at least 1 vaccine shot: 1,658,176 (up from 1,637,771)
  • People who have completed. vaccine series: 1,031,749 (up from 1,003,316)
  • Positive cases: 519,529 (up from 517,881)
  • Deaths: 6,848 – 375 of which are “probable*” (up from 6,836)
  • Patients no longer requiring isolation: 499,395 (up from 498,103)

* Probable deaths are patients who died after testing positive using the COVID-19 antigen test, which is thought to be less accurate than the more common PCR test.

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Red meat may not be as unhealthy as processed meat, study finds – Insider

  • Regularly eating red meat and chicken may not be as unhealthy as previously thought. 
  • New research suggests processed meat is linked to health risks, but unprocessed meat in small quantities is not. 
  • More research is needed, but evidence supports swapping out bacon and sausage for chicken or beans.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Meat might be back on the menu for a healthy diet, at least if you avoid highly-processed varieties, new research suggests. 

While eating processed meat like bacon and sausage is linked to worse health outcomes, fresh cuts of red meat and chicken may not increase your risk of disease, according to a study published March 31 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Researchers from multiple universities, including McMaster University in Canada, looked at data from 134,297 people across 21 countries, including Canada, Sweden, Russia, South Africa, India, and Brazil, over a time span of nine and a half years, on average.

They found that eating more than three servings of unprocessed red meat and chicken per week was not associated with a higher risk of

heart disease
or earlier death from any cause. 

However, people who ate more than two servings a week of processed meat were more likely to develop major cardiovascular illness and more likely to die during the study, than people who didn’t eat processed meat. 

Previous research has linked red meat to cancer and heart disease

These findings are in contrast to previous research that has linked red meat to risk of heart disease and other chronic illness — albeit less so than processed meat. Both red meat and processed meat are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and heme iron, all of which have been previously associated with risk of heart disease, cancer, and other illness.

One reason for these contradictory findings is that most studies on nutrition, including this one, are observational. That means they can find associations between certain dietary patterns and disease, but they can’t prove whether specific foods directly cause health risks.

And in some cases, studies on health risks of meat have grouped red and processed meat into one category, making it difficult to determine if they have different effects on health. 

“Evidence of an association between meat intake and cardiovascular disease is inconsistent. We therefore wanted to better understand the associations between intakes of unprocessed red meat, poultry, and processed meat with major cardiovascular disease events and mortality,” Dr. Romaina Iqbal, first author of this recent study and a nutrition professor at Aga Khan University in Pakistan, said in a press release.

Consider cutting back on processed meat

While the debate around red meat continues to be somewhat controversial, the authors of the most recent study conclude that limiting processed meat is a safe bet for health. That’s supported by other research as well. 

That’s a good reason to consider swapping out your deli meat or hot dogs for chicken breast, beef filet, or even a meat-free alternative

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SLO County residents age 30+ now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine – KSBY San Luis Obispo News

San Luis Obispo County is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents 30 years of age and older.

County Public Health officials say that makes about 60,000 additional SLO County residents eligible for the vaccine; however, those at highest risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes will be prioritized when it comes to scheduling appointments.

Eligible residents can register for an appointment through the county’s three vaccine clinics in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande by visiting recoverslo.org/vaccine or calling the Phone Assistance Center at (805) 543-2444 or (805) 781-4280.

The County Public Health Department reports it has enough vaccine supply to administer about 10,000 first doses next week.

Other currently eligible groups include:

  • Residents at high risk because of certain severe medical conditions or disabilities
  • Education and child care workers
  • Emergency services workers
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Janitorial service workers
  • Health care and community health workers
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Residents who live or work in a homeless shelter or a behavioral health facility
  • Court system and jurors

County officials note that some vaccine providers that receive their vaccine allocation from the federal government, including pharmacies, may not offer vaccines to those 30+ right away.

For more information on the county’s coronavirus response, visit readyslo.org.

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514 more COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths, 32K vaccinations reported Wednesday in Utah – KSL.com

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About 6,300 coronavirus cases confirmed as Michigan surge continues – WOODTV.com

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Firefighter details long-haul COVID-19 recovery: This virus almost took my life – WMTW Portland

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Over 100 fully vaccinated people contract COVID-19 in Washington state, officials say – ABC News

Officials said the so-called breakthrough cases are expected with any vaccine.

Over 100 people in Washington state have tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated against the disease, officials said.

The Washington State Department of Health is investigating reports of the so-called breakthrough cases, which it said are expected with any vaccine.

Out of the 1.2 million people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Washington, epidemiologists have reported evidence of 102 breakthrough cases in 18 counties since Feb. 1, representing less than 0.01% of all fully vaccinated individuals in the northwestern U.S. state. Most cases were patients who experienced only mild symptoms, if any, according to a press release from the Washington State Department of Health.

A breakthrough case is confirmed with a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a positive antigen test in an individual more than two weeks after they have received their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

“Finding evidence of vaccine breakthrough cases reminds us that, even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, practice socially distancing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others who have not been vaccinated,” Dr. Umair Shah, Washington state’s secretary of health, said in a statement Tuesday.

“It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases,” Shah said. “People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and co-workers to do the same.”

More than 30.3 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States and over 550,000 of them have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Washington state has registered at least 363,235 confirmed cases and 5,237 deaths. So far, more than 16% of the Evergreen State’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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Covid US: New York woman tests positive a month after getting Moderna vaccine – Daily Mail

One hundred fully vaccinated Washington state residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and a New York resident says she contracted the virus a month after receiving her second Moderna dose when she attended an indoor wake without a mask. 

The Washington State Department of Health said they are investigating 102 cases of residents testing positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. 

Officials say ‘breakthrough cases’ – as they refer to them – are expected with any vaccine but are rare. 

The number of breakthrough cases in Washington represents just .01 percent of the state’s 1 million vaccinations.  

The majority of those in the state with confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced only mild symptoms, if any, officials said. 

However, eight breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and officials are investigating potential vaccine breakthrough cases in which two people died since February 1. Both of those patients who died were older than 80 and had underlying health issues, officials said.  

Melanie Rosen, who works as a secretary in Long Island's Hewlett-Woodmere school district, told Pix11 she tested positive after receiving her second dose of the Moderna vaccine

Melanie Rosen, who works as a secretary in Long Island's Hewlett-Woodmere school district, told Pix11 she tested positive after receiving her second dose of the Moderna vaccine

Melanie Rosen, who works as a secretary in Long Island’s Hewlett-Woodmere school district, told Pix11 she tested positive after receiving her second dose of the Moderna vaccine

‘It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases,’ said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah. ‘People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.’ 

It is not clear what vaccine those 102 people received.  

Melanie Rosen, who works as a secretary at the Hewlett-Woodmere school district in Long Island, New York, told Pix11 she tested positive after receiving her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. 

Rosen contracted the virus after attending the wake of her friend’s father. 

She was inside her friend’s home for about 90 minutes without a mask with 10 of her friend’s relatives.

The friend’s family had come from various states and Rosen said she hugged each of them. 

‘There was probably at least 10 family members there,’ Rosen said. ‘I hung out for about an hour and a half without wearing a mask. I hugged each one.’   

Rosen said she had assumed she could resume normal activities and not wear a mask after being fully vaccinated. Her vaccine record is pictured above

Rosen said she had assumed she could resume normal activities and not wear a mask after being fully vaccinated. Her vaccine record is pictured above

Rosen said she had assumed she could resume normal activities and not wear a mask after being fully vaccinated. Her vaccine record is pictured above

Shortly after the wake, Rosen said she developed COVID-19 symptoms, including a stuffy nose and aching muscles. She got tested after three others at the wake contracted the virus

Shortly after the wake, Rosen said she developed COVID-19 symptoms, including a stuffy nose and aching muscles. She got tested after three others at the wake contracted the virus

Shortly after the wake, Rosen said she developed COVID-19 symptoms, including a stuffy nose and aching muscles. She got tested after three others at the wake contracted the virus

‘BREAKTHROUGH’ COVID CASES AFTER VACCINATION ARE NORMAL

Large clinical trials of vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna have shown all three are highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, severe illness and death from the virus. 

But none of the three claim to be perfect, although the protect virtually 100 percent of recipients from getting sick enough to be hospitalized or from dying of the disease.  

Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot prevents about 66 percent of symptomatic illnesses. 

The two-shot vaccine made by Moderna reduced the risk of developing COVID-19 with symptoms by about 94 percent. 

And Pfizer’s prevented 95 percent of symptomatic infections. 

That means that anywhere between five and 34 percent of symptomatic infections might slip through.   

But we still do not know how well the vaccines prevent people from catching coronavirus and not developing symptoms or spreading it to others.  

So far, cases of so-called ‘breakthrough’ coronavirus are rare and have not resulted in serious illness. 

And doctors say that breakthrough infections,’ are neither common nor surprising. 

Shortly after the wake, Rosen said she developed COVID-19 symptoms, including a stuffy nose and aching muscles. 

She got tested after being told that three of the family members had since tested positive. 

‘I was shocked,’ Rosen said, of getting the vaccination and still getting COVID. 

She said she only suffered a mild form of COVID-19 and believes the vaccine likely stopped her from becoming seriously ill.  

Rosen said she had assumed she could resume normal activities and not wear a mask after being fully vaccinated.

‘You can still get it; you can probably still spread it,’ she said. ‘I want people to know it’s not over.’   

The CDC has recommended that fully vaccinated people still take precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying six feet away from people and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces ‘until we know more,’ according to a statement last week. 

The CDC has not released a total figure for the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.

Vaccine trials showed that the three vaccines approved in the US – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson – prevent between 66 and 95 percent of symptomatic infections.

It is still not known in granular detail how well the vaccines prevent people from catching or spreading the virus. 

The majority of Americans who are breakthrough cases have experienced only mild symptoms, if any, officials have said. 

Studies done so far have shown that while a certain number of vaccinated people still can become infected, the vaccines protect nearly completely against critical illness or death. 

In recent weeks, a handful of breakthrough cases have been reported in a number of states, including Hawaii, Washington, Florida and Oregon.  

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Mysterious brain disease causing hallucinations probed in Canada – New York Post

More than 40 people in Canada have reportedly contracted a mysterious brain illness — with symptoms resembling those in a rare and fatal illness, including memory loss, hallucinations and muscle atrophy.

Officials alerted doctors in the New Brunswick province this month that they were monitoring a cluster of 43 cases of a neurological disease of unknown cause, The Guardian reported.

The first identified case dates back to 2015, but in 2019 there were 11 cases and 24 in 2020. Researchers believe five people have died from the disease, according to the news outlet.

There have been six cases so far in 2021, according to CBC News.

Residents first learned of a probe last week after a leaked memo from the local public health agency asked doctors to be on the lookout for symptoms similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disease caused by misformed proteins known as prions.

“We are collaborating with different national groups and experts; however, no clear cause has been identified at this time,” read the memo, The Guardian reported.

Some of the symptoms — including memory loss, vision problems and abnormal movements — triggered an alert with Canada’s CJD surveillance network.

But despite the initial similarities, screening produced no confirmed cases of CJD, according to the news outlet.

New Brunswick
A majority of the cases have been linked to the Acadian peninsula, a sparsely populated region in the northeastern part of New Brunswick.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“We don’t have evidence to suggest it’s a prion disease,” said Dr. Alier Marrero, a neurologist heading the New Brunswick investigation, adding that patients initially complained of pains, spasms and behavioral changes.

Their symptoms could also be diagnosed as anxiety or depression, he noted, but over 18 to 36 months they began developing cognitive decline, muscle wasting, drooling and teeth chattering.

A number of them also began experiencing scary hallucinations, including the feeling of insects crawling on their skin, according to the report.

In addition to CJD, the symptoms also are similar to some of its variants, including mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the CBC reported.

Dr. Alier Marrero, a neurologist heading the New Brunswick investigation
“We don’t have evidence to suggest it’s a prion disease,” said Dr. Alier Marrero, a neurologist heading the New Brunswick investigation, adding that patients initially complained of pains, spasms and behavioral changes.
Global News

To rule out other possible causes like dementia, neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disorders and possible infections, Marrero’s team conducts an extensive study of the patient’s history, as well as a battery of tests including brain scans, metabolic and toxicology tests and spinal taps.

“We have not seen over the last 20-plus years a cluster of diagnosis-resistant neurological disease like this one,” Michael Coulthart, head of Canada’s CJD surveillance network, told The Guardian.

A majority of the cases have been linked to the Acadian peninsula, a sparsely populated region in the northeastern part of New Brunswick, which has a population of fewer than 800,000.

Valerie Sim, a researcher at the University of Alberta, said experts “don’t really know if we even have a defined syndrome.”