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Exp Dermatol. 2004 Jan;13(1):5-10.

Restoration of hair growth in mice with an alopecia areata-like disease using topical anthralin.

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Division of Dermatology, University of British Columbia and Vancouver General Hospital, 828 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 1E8, Canada.


Anthralin is a widely used topical anti-psoriatic drug that may have an immunomodulating effect on alopecia areata (AA) as it does in psoriasis. The aims of the present study were to investigate the effects of anthralin on hair growth in balding C3H/HeJ mice affected by an AA-like disease and to study the underlying mechanisms. Affected C3H/HeJ mice were treated daily for 10 weeks on half of the dorsal skin with 0.2% anthralin and the contra-lateral side was treated with the vehicle ointment. The percentage of surface hair coverage and hair density was graded weekly for both sides and hair growth indices were calculated using these two variables. Hair regrowth was observed in 9/14 mice on the treated sides. Four mice displayed near complete replacement of normal density and length hairs. All the vehicle-treated sides showed either no change or continued hair loss. An RNase protection assay (RPA) showed that expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and -beta were inhibited by anthralin upon successful treatment. It appears that anthralin may be an effective therapy for C3H/HeJ mice with AA and certain cytokines may be involved in the therapeutic effects of anthralin on restoring hair regrowth in AA-affected C3H/HeJ mice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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