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May 10, 1995

Alopecia Areata and Presence of Cytomegalovirus DNA

Author Affiliations

University of Tennessee College of Medicine Memphis
Saint Louis University St Louis, Mo

JAMA. 1995;273(18):1419-1420. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520420031025

To the Editor.  —Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, we found evidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in paraffin-block sections of lesions of alopecia areata.Our interest in this association was first aroused by a 15-year-old male patient who developed sore throat, arthralgias, fever, chills, and diffuse lymphadenopathy. Evaluation by several other physicians had failed to uncover a cause. Tests for mononucleosis, among others, were negative. Hedeveloped widespread alopecia areata with loss of most of the hair on his scalp and body. His symptoms suggested CMV infection; a convalescent serum IgG by enzyme immunoassay titer to CMV was 1.30, with normal being less than 0.25. Because of this case, we instituted further studies.Twenty-one of 35 alopecia areata patients had similarly elevated antibody titers. Results of in situ hybridization tests on paraffin-block biopsy specimens of 10 patients with alopecia areata were all negative.Specimens for PCR study were chosen from