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Autoimmun Rev. 2013 Sep;12(11):1033-8. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome.

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  • 1Department Organs of Sense, ENT Section, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.



The objectives of this study are to review our current knowledge of the aetiopathogenesis of Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, including viral infection, genetic factors and immunomediated mechanisms, and to discuss pathogenesis and its relevance to pharmacotherapy.


Relevant publications from 1965 to 2012 on the aetiopathogenesis and pharmacotherapy of VKHS were analysed.


Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (VKHS) is a rare multisystemic autoimmune disease that affects tissues containing melanin, including the eye, inner ear, meninges, and skin. The disease is characterised by bilateral uveitis associated with a varying constellation of auditory, neurological and cutaneous manifestations. The disease occurs more frequently among people with darker skin pigmentation. Asians, Native Americans, and Hispanics are most frequently affected. It predominates in patients aged between 20 and 50years, and females are affected more frequently, with a female:male ratio of 2:1. The classic clinical course is characterised by bilateral panuveitis, hypoacusis, and meningitis, in addition to cutaneous involvement with poliosis, vitiligo, and alopecia. Although the exact cause of VKH disease remains unknown, it is thought to be a T-cell-mediated autoimmune process directed against melanocytes. VKHS classically begins with vague systemic symptoms suggestive of a viral infection, although a clear association between a specific viral agent and the disease has not been established. Genetic factors may play an important role in the loss of self-tolerance in VKHS. The HLA-DRB1*0405 allele is the main susceptibility allele for VKHS. Early and aggressive systemic corticosteroids are still the primary initial therapy for VKHS. Ocular complications may require an intravitreous injection of corticosteroids. Despite proper treatment with steroids, a number of patients experience recurrent attacks or steroid-associated complications. Thus, non steroid immunomodulatory therapy (IMT) has become necessary for the treatment of VKHS.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Autoimmunity; Harada syndrome; Hearing loss; Hypoacusis; Uveitis

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