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J Dermatol Sci. 2009 Jun;54(3):157-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2009.02.004. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Ultrastructural and functional alterations of mitochondria in perilesional vitiligo skin.

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  • 1Department of Dermatological Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.



Vitiligo is a chronic acquired hypomelanotic disorder affecting 0.5-2% of the world's population. The two major pathogenetic hypotheses are focused on immune-mediated or toxic-mediated cell damage primarily directed at melanocytes. Recent experimental data underline the complex interactions that exist between melanocytes and other cells found in the skin.


Among these cells, keratinocytes are able to influence both the survival and the functional activity of melanocytes. In order to gain insights into the involvement of different types of epidermic cells in the pathogenesis of vitiligo, we have performed an ultrastructural study on lesional, perilesional and normal skin from 12 patients. All these patients suffered from non-segmental vitiligo, with a similar clinical history in terms of lesion extension and duration of the disease.


We have therefore grown cultures of keratinocytes from lesional, perilesional and healthy skin, evaluating the presence of oxidative damage and apoptotic markers in the cells.


Taken together, our results indicate that keratinocytes from perilesional skin show features of damaged cells.


Our data, besides considering the achromic patch as the terminal event of a chain of biological processes that take place in the perilesional skin, highlight keratinocytes as having an important role in the development of vitiligo.

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