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Dermatol Clin. 1996 Oct;14(4):739-44.

Topical immunotherapy in alopecia areata. What, how, and why?

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Department of Dermatology, Philipp University, Marburg, Germany.


At present the induction and elicitation of an ACD with potent contact allergens such as DCP appear to be the most effective, but still not definitively curative, approach in treating extensive forms of AA. Experimental data suggest that cytokines and growth factors such as IL 1 beta are involved in the pathogenesis of AA as well as the therapeutic effect mediated by contact sensitizers. It seems reasonable to assume that factors inherent in the late phase of ACD modulate a T-cell mediated mechanism responsible for AA, thus inducing hair regrowth. Such counteracting activities are most likely mediated by proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, IL-10, or TGF-beta 1. This hypothesis may oversimplify the underlying immunologic mechanisms, but the effectiveness of topical immunotherapy in AA would be compatible with this concept. This mode of treatment is, however, a rather rough approach and recurrences are possible. It is hoped that advances in basic science will eventually allow us to find a more specific mode of treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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