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The age in which a person starts having grey hair can differ greatly from person to person – with some people becoming a silver fox in their 20s.

Now, a new mouse study suggests that viral infections could play a role in triggering grey hair early on in life.

When mice are exposed to a virus, they suffer a loss of melanocyte stem cells which leads to an increased number of grey hairs, reported Yahoo! 7.

Melissa Harris of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said that when a virus attacks the immune system, infected cells respond by producing interferons.

Interferons signal messages to neighbouring cells, warning them to protect themselves.

When there is an excess number of interferons, there can also be a loss of melanocytes and melanocyte stem cells, which stop the production of hair pigmentation.

Harris says that this could explain why some people go grey in their early years.

“Perhaps, in an individual who is healthy yet predisposed for grey hair, getting an everyday viral infection is just enough to cause the decline of their melanocytes and melanocyte stem cells leading to premature grey hair,” Harris explains. 

How old were you when you started going grey? Let us know in the comments below. 

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