The effect of catalase enzyme
and its feasibility in preventing grey hairs in human beings.

Hair is a thread-like
structure that grows from the skin of mammals. In humans, tiny, light-coloured
hairs that are barely visible cover the entire human body while in other areas
like the scalp, around the jaw as well as the pubic area bear much thicker
hair. Hairs are vital as they are functional around the eyes, ears and in the
nose as they serve a protective function. These hairs serve as an obstruction
for dust, insects and other foreign matter.

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Amongst humans, however, hair
has primarily a cosmetic value. Based on the Fischer-Saller scale, shades of
hair colour include very light blonde, light blonde, blonde, light brown to
brown, dark brown/ black, red and red blonde. In spite of this however, it is a
common phenomenon that human hair greys with age. As a result this is a cause
of insecurity among people. For many years there has been a lot of controversy
to what causes ones hair to de-colour. This sparked research and many
discoveries were made.

One discovery was that hair
follicles called melanocytes began losing their ability, over time, to produce
the pigment, melanin, which colours the hair. This results in an array of
colours from silver to grey to white.

In this discovery it was
concluded that these melanocytes ordinarily contain small quantities of
hydrogen peroxide (a clear liquid with oxidising properties) which is produced
naturally by the body. This hydrogen peroxide is usually monitored by the
enzyme catalase which breaks it down into water and oxygen. With aging the
catalase enzyme is reduced therefore causing a decline in the catalysation of
hydrogen peroxide. This results in the hydrogen peroxide hair bleaching the
hair from within, as we get older. In contrast, young and healthy bodies
produce sufficient amounts of this powerful antioxidant enzyme which still
efficiently functions to break down hydrogen peroxide, hence greying is not
ordinarily prevalent.

Hydrogen peroxide is a
ubiquitous molecule. It is exhaled, excreted and consumed by humans. It is
found in drinking water, rain water and in sea water. In a recent study, it was
emphasised that an abundance of hydrogen peroxide in the human body can produce
devastating tissue damage to all its organs. (Halliwell et al., 2000)
Externally from the human body, the catalase enzyme can be found in yeast or in
potatoes. This enzyme works optimally at 37° C which is close to body
temperature while its optimal pH level is between 6.8 and 7.5 which is a fairly
neutral pH. The following research will investigate the effectiveness of
catalase enzyme in decomposing hydrogen peroxide, and how this enzyme can be
used to decrease hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles of humans, slowing down
the greying process. In order to determine the effectiveness of the catalase
enzyme, experiments will be conducted whereby potatoes and yeast will be
subjected to varying temperatures and pH levels, simulating the temperatures
and the pH levels of the human digestive process. Time will be kept constant
whilst the height of the bubbles will be recorded and analysed.

Aim: To investigate if the
catalase enzyme will function between pH levels _ to _ and at temperatures of 5°C
to 80°C and therefore if they can be used to prevent grey hairs.

Hypothesis: Catalase
enzymes work the best at pH level 7 at a temperature of 40° C and therefore
would be highly effective in preventing grey hairs.

Methodology:

For ease this experiment has
been divided in to 2 individual methods.

Method A – Temperature

·      
Peel potatoes and cut
them up into 5 individual pieces about 1cm x 1cm x 1cm.

·      
Label 5 graduated
measuring cylinders 5°; 10°; 20°; 40° and 80° respectively.

·      
Label 5 beakers with
the same 5 labels – 5°; 10°; 20°; 40° and 80°.

·      
Into each graduated
measuring cylinder, using a syringe, place 3ml of hydrogen peroxide.

·      
Each beaker is going to
act as a water bath at different temperatures. Therefore each beaker has to be
filled individually and the temperature has to be checked often by using a
thermometer.

·      
Each beaker will be
filled using a syringe with 6cm³ of distilled water in each.

1.     For beaker labelled 5°

ü  Place 6cm³ of water in the beaker, placing a thermometer in
the beaker and then placing them into a freezer.

ü  Keep checking the thermometer until the reading says 5°C.

ü  Remove from the freezer and immediately place the graduated
measuring cylinder labelled 5°C into the beaker.

ü  Now remove the thermometer from the beaker, wipe it, reset
it and place it into the graduated measuring cylinder with the hydrogen
peroxide.

ü  When that thermometer presents 5°C place a cube of cut
potato into the hydrogen peroxide compound.

ü  After 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds measure the
height of the bubbles produced above the water meniscus. Make sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of
parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

2.     For beaker labelled 10°

ü  Place 6cm³ of water in the beaker, placing a thermometer in
the beaker and then placing them into a freezer.

ü  Keep checking the thermometer until the reading says 10°C.

ü  Remove from the freezer and immediately place the graduated
measuring cylinder labelled 10°C into the beaker.

ü  Now remove the thermometer from the beaker, wipe it, reset
it and place it into the graduated measuring cylinder with the hydrogen
peroxide.

ü  When that thermometer presents 10°C place a cube of cut
potato into the hydrogen peroxide compound.

ü  After 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds measure the
height of the bubbles produced above the water meniscus. Make sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of
parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

3.     For beaker labelled 20°

ü  Place 6cm³ of water in the beaker, placing a thermometer in
the beaker and then placing them into a fridge.

ü  Keep checking the thermometer until the reading says 20°C.

ü  Remove from the fridge and immediately place the graduated
measuring cylinder labelled 20°C into the beaker.

ü  Now remove the thermometer from the beaker, wipe it, reset
it and place it into the graduated measuring cylinder with the hydrogen
peroxide.

ü  When that thermometer presents 20°C place a cube of cut
potato into the hydrogen peroxide compound.

ü  After 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds measure the
height of the bubbles produced above the water meniscus. Make sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of
parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

4.     For beaker labelled 40°

ü  Place 6cm³ of water in the beaker, placing a thermometer in
the beaker and then placing them into a pot, filled with water.

ü  Place the pot with the beaker inside on a stove and turn on
the stove to medium heat.

ü  Keep checking the thermometer until the reading says 40°C.

ü  Remove from the pot using tongs and immediately place the
graduated measuring cylinder labelled 40°C into the beaker.

ü  Now remove the thermometer from the beaker, wipe it, reset
it and place it into the graduated measuring cylinder with the hydrogen
peroxide.

ü  When that thermometer presents 40°C place a cube of cut
potato into the hydrogen peroxide compound.

ü  After 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds measure the
height of the bubbles produced above the water meniscus. Make sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of
parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

5.     For beaker labelled 80°

ü  Place 6cm³ of water in the beaker, placing a thermometer in
the beaker and then placing them into a pot, filled with water.

ü  Place the pot with the beaker inside on a stove and turn on
the stove to high heat.

ü  Keep checking the thermometer until the reading says 80°C.

ü  Remove from the pot using tongs and immediately place the
graduated measuring cylinder labelled 80°C into the beaker.

ü  Now remove the thermometer from the beaker, wipe it, reset
it and place it into the graduated measuring cylinder with the hydrogen
peroxide.

ü  When that thermometer presents 80°C place a cube of cut
potato into the hydrogen peroxide compound.

ü  After 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds measure the
height of the bubbles produced above the water meniscus. Make sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of
parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

 

Method B – pH

ü  Peel potatoes and cut them up into 3 individual pieces
about 1cm x 1cm x 1cm.

ü  Label 5 graduated measuring cylinders A; B; and C respectively.

ü  Using a 10ml syringe, add 5ml of hydrogen peroxide solution
to each graduated measuring cylinder.

ü  Using a clean 10ml syringe, add 5ml of 2M of hydro-chloric
acid (HCl) to cylinder A

ü  Using a clean 10ml syringe, add 5ml of 2M of sodium
hydroxide (NaOH) to cylinder B

ü  Using a clean 10ml syringe, add 5ml of distilled water to
cylinder C

ü  Using universal pH indicator paper, measure the pH of each
of the graduated measuring cylinder.

ü  Add the cut up pieces of potato to each graduated measuring
cylinder.

ü  Measure the bubbles produced above the water meniscus after
30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds. Make
sure to look at the measurement at eye level to avoid the error of parallax.

ü  Record the data findings

 

One hypothesis is that stress
causes the release of stress hormones which lead to inflammation and
free-radical production. This intern would affect the production or bleaching
of melanin within the body.

Additionally studies in the
Indian Dermatology Online Journal have shown that smokers are 2.5 times more
susceptible to premature greying than non-smokers.

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