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J Invest Dermatol. 1994 May;102(5):721-4.

Antibodies to hair follicles in alopecia areata.

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Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical Center, New York 10016.


Although alopecia areata is suspected to be an autoimmune disease, no direct evidence of an altered immune response to components of the hair follicle has been reported. We studied whether antibodies to normal human anagen scalp hair follicles are present in individuals with alopecia areata. Thirty-nine alopecia areata sera and 27 control sera were tested by Western immunoblotting for antibodies to 6 M urea-extractable proteins of normal anagen scalp hair follicles. At serum diluted 1:80, all alopecia areata subjects (100%), but only 44% of control individuals, had antibodies directed to one or more antigens of approximately 57, 52, 50, 47, or 44 kD. The incidence of antibodies to individual hair follicle antigens in alopecia areata was up to seven times more frequent than in control sera and their level up to 13 times greater and was statistically significant for all five antigens. Tissue specificity analysis indicated that these antigens were selectively expressed in hair follicles. These findings indicate that individuals with alopecia areata have abnormal antibodies directed to hair follicle antigens, and support the hypothesis that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease.

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