Gene array profiling and immunomodulation studies define a cell-mediated immune response underlying the pathogenesis of alopecia areata in a mouse model and humans.

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Alopecia-Areata, Animal, Antibodies-Monoclonal, Autoimmune-Diseases, CD4-Positive-T-Lymphocytes, CD8-Positive-T-Lymphocytes, Disease-Models-Animal, Human, Immunity-Cellular, Mice, Mice-Inbred-C3H, Oligonucleotide-Array-Sequence-Analysis, SUPPORT-NON-U-S-GOVT, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-NON-P-H-S, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-P-H-S

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J Invest Dermatol 2002 Aug; 119(2):392-402.


Alopecia areata is a suspected autoimmune hair loss disease. In a rodent model, alopecia areata can be induced in normal haired C3H/HeJ mice by transfer of skin grafts from mice with spontaneous alopecia areata. At weeks 2, 4, 6, and 10 after surgery, grafted mice were euthanized, skin collected and processed for histology, and RNA extracted. Age-matched sham-grafted mice, and mice with and without spontaneous alopecia areata, were similarly processed. For comparison, skin biopsies from alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia affected humans were also collected. Skin mRNA processed to cDNA was analyzed using Affymetrix mouse 11K and human 6800 gene chip(R) array technology. Microarray results indicated 42 known genes upregulated or downregulated during onset of mouse alopecia areata consistent with an inflammatory cell-mediated disease pathogenesis involving antigen presentation, costimulation, and a T helper 1 lymphocyte response. In contrast, 114 genes, many regulating immunoglobulin response, were altered late in disease development. In alopecia areata affected humans, 95 genes were significantly modulated. As confirmation of microarray analysis results, lymph node and spleen cells from alopecia areata affected mice injected into normal haired littermates transferred the alopecia areata phenotype. Alopecia areata onset could be inhibited in skin-grafted mice by modulation with B7.1- and B7.2-specific monoclonal antibodies. In addition, depletion of CD4+ CD8+ expressing cells in chronic alopecia areata affected mice using monoclonal antibodies permitted hair regrowth. The results consistently demonstrated the importance of an immune cell-mediated disease mechanism in alopecia areata pathogenesis and suggested targeting antigen-presenting cells and reactive lymphocytes may be effective in alopecia areata treatment.

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