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J R Soc Med. 1989 Sep;82(9):539-41.

Hypothesis: possible role for the melatonin receptor in vitiligo: discussion paper.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510.


A new unifying hypothesis for the aetiology of vitiligo is proposed, in which we postulate that the final destruction of melanocytes in vitiligo results from a cascade of reactions initiated by a disregulation of melanogenesis, caused by activation of the melatonin receptor. These events result in the high and uncontrolled production of free radicals and toxic products of melanogenesis which sequentially damage or destroy melanocytes and keratinocytes, provoke an autoimmune response against exposed intracellular or altered cell surface antigens, and increase the propensity of melanocytes to undergo malignant transformation.

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