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November 1960

Nerve Network of the Hair Follicle in Alopecia Areata

Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn.

Section of Dermatology (Dr. Winkelmann), Fellow in Dermatology (Dr. Jaffe), Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minn. The Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minn., is a part of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.

Arch Dermatol. 1960;82(5):750-753. doi:10.1001/archderm.1960.01580050092013

The etiology of alopecia areata has long been an enigma, but one of the commonest theories has concerned inflammatory or degenerative changes in the cutaneous nerves. As early as 1847 Casenave1 appreciated the frequent association of alopecia areata and vitiligo, which he believed to be of nervous origin. The first experimental evidence for neurotrophic pathogenesis of alopecia areata was submitted by Max Joseph.2 He produced patches of alopecia in cats by sectioning the posterior roots of the second cervical nerve peripheral to the ganglion or by ablation of the ganglion itself. His conclusion that the resulting alopecia was produced by nerve sections with a specific trophic function has never been confirmed.3-6 Aubrun7 strongly refuted Joseph's conclusions and offered data proving that the experimentally produced alopecia was secondary to trauma resulting from scratching the involved area. Wright8 observed the effect on human hair of painrelieving neurosurgical

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