A modified pseudocatalase, a new compound that reverses oxidative stress may provide a cure for loss of skin or hair color, i.e. gray hair or vitiligo, researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany reported in The FASEB Journal.
The need to use hair dyes to cover up a classic sign of aging – gray hair – may soon be a thing of the past.
Scientists from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders in association with E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany and the Centre for Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, explained that people’s hair goes gray because of massive oxidative stress caused by a build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles. This causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
The researchers found that this massive build up of hydrogen peroxide can be reversed with a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase. The research team developed this new proprietary treatment.
The authors added that PC-KUS treatment is also effective for patients with vitiligo. Vitiligo is a long-term skin problem that produces white depigmentation patches that develop and grow in certain sections of skin.
Study author, Karin U. Schallreuter, M.D., said: “To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localized hair color can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways. The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented.”
Schallreuter and team analyzed 2,411 patients from several countries with vitiligo. Fifty-seven (2.4%) of them were diagnosed with SSV (strictly segmental vitiligo) and 76 (3.2%) were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo, which is SSV plus NSV (non-segmental vitiligo).
They discovered that those with SSV with a specific nerval distribution involving eyelashes and skin showed the same oxidative stress found in the much more common general NSV. General NSV is associated with decreased antioxidant capacities, including thioredoxin reductase, catalase, and the repair mechanisms methionine sulfoxide reductases.
They found that PC-KUS treatment led to successful patient outcomes – patients’ pigmentation in their skin and eyelashes was restored – i.e. they recovered their original skin and hair color.
Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said: “For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair. but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what’s even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people’s lives.”
This report is a follow-up on a 2009 study that explained why our hair turns gray. Scientists from the Universities of Bradford, England, and Mainz and Luebeck, Germany, explained in The FASEB Journal (March 2009 issue) that graying hair has absolutely nothing to do with wisdom. They wrote that “Going gray is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles.”
Hydrogen peroxide eventually blocks the normal production of melanin, the natural pigment responsible for hair color, as well as skin and eye color.
Clinical studies conducted worldwide are holding great promise, as their results are only positive ones. Take for instance, a study consisting of thirty-three patients living with vitiligo who were treated with a topical application of pseudocatalase, calcium, and a short-term exposure to UVB light. It was found that the first sign of repigmention occurred as early as 2 to 4 months after the initiation of therapy and complete repigmentation on the face and hands of patients was seen in 90% of the group. It was also noted that no patients developed new lesions while on the therapy.(34) In another similar study involving fifty-nine patients who were treated for 21 days with the combination treatment of Dead Sea climatotherapy plus pseudocatalase cream (PC-KUS), it was discovered that only after 15 minutes of Dead Sea bathing, there was a significantly higher decrease of epidermal hydrogen peroxide compared to the use of narrow-band UVB along with the pseudocatalase cream. It was observed that between days 10 and 16 after initiation of therapy that patients already regained the beginning stages of repigmentation compared to the 2 to 4 months discussed earlier. As a result, this study concluded that this combined therapy produced a significantly faster response in repigmentation of patient’s skin than the use of pseudocatalase, calcium, and UVB treatment alone. The study supported the idea that not only is it important to remove epidermal hydrogen peroxide, but also for a successful treatment against vitiligo, solar UV-light is of equal importance.(35)
At the moment, the mainstream treatment against this discolorating disorder has no side effects, even maintaining the affected patient’s normal liver function.(33)
As you can see, the road in the treatment for vitiligo looks promising as more and more knowledge about the disorder is being discovered, thus allowing doctors and pharmacists all around the world to develop future therapies.
Proposed Mechanism of Action Narrow-band activated pseudocatalase cream (PC-KUS) is based on a bis manganese EDTA bicarbonate complex, which removes high levels of epidermal H2O2. As a result, it initiates repigmentation and arrests further development of vitiligo(11).
Recommended Application – Apply pseudocatalase twice daily along with exposure to natural sunlight or 2-3 times a week UVB phototherapy(11)
Adverse effects – Generally well tolerated without reported common or serious side effects. A few instances of increased sweating and hyperpigmentation has been reported, which subsided with continued use(11).
Have there been studies done on pseudocatalase?
In 1995, Dr. Karin Schallreuter and her colleagues published case studies on 33 patients, reporting complete repigmentation of face and dorsum of the hand in 90% (fingers and feet did not repigment)(18,6). Pseudocatalase and calcium combination cream were applied twice daily, along with twice a week UVB phototherapy. The treatment period was averaged to be 15 months, but the first sign of repigmentation appeared between 2 and 4 months.
Additionally, a study published in 2008 entitled “From basic research to the bedside: efficacy of topical treatment with pseudocatalase PC-KUS in 71 children with vitiligo” assessed the effect of repigmentation in 71 children with vitiligo in various countries. After 8-12 months of treatment with topical PC-KUS twice daily, more than 75% repigmentation of the face and neck occurred in 66 of the 71 patients, more than 75% repigmentation of the trunk in 48 of the 61 patients, more than 75% repigmentation of the extremities in 40 of the 55 patients, and 75% repigmentation of the hands and feet in 5 of the 53 patients(20). These remarkable results add to the prospects of considering pseudocatalase as a treatment option for vitiligo.
Some other clinical trials have not shown as favorable results. In 2002, an open study assessed the effectiveness of pseudocatalase applied twice daily in combination with UVB phototherapy over a period of 24 weeks. Of the 26 patients studied, ten of the patients showed improvements while the remaining patients did not show improvement or even worsening of the condition. However, the supplied pseudocatalase was formulated as a mousse, which was different from the original formulation. This may have contributed to the poor results and reported side effects of itching(29).
Subsequently, in 2009, Bakis-Petsoglou and team conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of twice daily pseudocatalase along with three times a week UVB phototherapy over a period of 24 weeks. In this study, 32 patients were randomized to the pseudocatalase or placebo arm (the placebo group received a cream that looked like pseudocatalase but did not contain any active ingredients). By week 12, both groups showed statistically significant improvement, which continued throughout the rest of the trial. However, results did not show that pseudocatalase added improvement to UVB phototherapy over placebo(21). According to Dr. Karin Schallreuter’s response to these two trials, both of these did not use the original formulation and certify that activated pseudocatalase has shown excellent results in patients treated(22)