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Autoimmun Rev. 2006 Jan;5(1):64-9. Epub 2005 Aug 8.

Alopecia areata: a tissue specific autoimmune disease of the hair follicle.

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Laboratory for Skin Research, Rappaport Building, Technion Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Flieman Med Center, P.O.B. 9649, Bat-Galim, Haifa, 31096, Israel. FLIGILHAR@MATAT.HEALTH.GOV.IL


The goal of this review is to introduce the immunologic community to alopecia areata as a model system for the study of tissue directed autoimmune disease. Alopecia areata is marked by autoimmune assault on the hair follicle resulting in hair loss. It is linked to HLA-DQ3 and evidence suggests it is mediated by T-lymphocytes with a TH1 cytokine profile. Hair follicles are an immune protected site with deficient MHC expression. Evidence is presented suggesting that alopecia areata results from loss of immune privilege with presentation of autoantigens. Alopecia areata is one of the most common human autoimmune conditions, with a lifetime risk of approximately 1.7%. Study of alopecia areata in humans is facilitated by the accessibility of scalp for biopsy. It is possible to transfer the condition with lesional human lymphocytes in a human scalp graft/SCID mouse model. There are also spontaneous animal models which share the features of the human condition. For these reasons, alopecia areata is a powerful model for study of the induction and pathogenesis of tissue directed autoimmune disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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