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March 1973

Alopecia Areata: Immunologic Studies and Treatment With Prednisone

Author Affiliations


From the Subdepartment of Dermatology (Drs. Kern and Hambrick), and the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology (Drs. Hoffman and Blizzard), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. Dr. Kern is now at Naval Hospital, Camp LeJeune, NC.

Arch Dermatol. 1973;107(3):407-412. doi:10.1001/archderm.1973.01620180061019

Patients with varying degrees of alopecia were examined for presence of circulating antibodies against thyroglobulin and against cytoplasm of parietal, thyroid, hair follicle, and adrenal cells. They were also examined for abnormal levels of circulating immunoglobulins. Statistical significance was established between alopecia and presence of antibodies against thyroglobulin, parietal cells, adrenal cells, and thyroid cells. No antibodies were demonstrated against cells of hair follicle.

Twenty-seven patients received alternate-day steroid therapy in a single dose; 18 were reexamined after six months. Hair growth was significant; side effects were less than anticipated.

Serums of all patients with alopecia should be evaluated periodically for circulating antibodies against all tissues mentioned except hair follicles. In an occasional patient, alternate-day systemic prednisone therapy may be useful, but long-term prednisone therapy must always be instituted judiciously and only in carefully selected patients.

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