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August 1992

Alopecia Areata: Autoreactive T Cells Are Variably Enriched in Scalp Lesions Relative to Peripheral Blood

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Ms Johnson and Dr Hordinsky), and the Department of Dermatology, State University of New York at Stony Brook (Dr Kalish).

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(8):1072-1077. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680180066007

• Background and Design.—  Alopecia areata is a condition characterized by hair loss in association with perifollicular infiltration of T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Autoreactive T cells are postulated to amplify this abnormality by interacting with DR+ follicular epithelium. These cells may recognize either autologous major histocompatibility complex class II antigen or an autoantigen restricted by major histocompatibility complex class II. Limiting dilution analysis was used to determine the frequency of autoreactive lymphocytes in scalp biopsy specimens and peripheral blood from seven adult patients with alopecia areata. Autoreactive T cells are defined for this study as those that proliferate in response to autologous irradiated peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Results.—  Autoreactive lymphocytes were enriched in scalp biopsy specimens relative to peripheral blood in five of seven patients. This enrichment was statistically significant in four of five patients. Five autoreactive T-cell clones derived from lesional scalp were characterized. Four of these clones were CD3+CD4+CD8- and one clone was CD3+CD4-CD8+.

Conclusions.—  Enrichment of autoreactive cells in lesions of alopecia areata supports a role for these cells in the pathogenesis of this condition. Enrichment of autoreactive lymphocytes is also found in allergic contact dermatitis. Thus, these autoreactive lymphocytes may have a general role in inflammation.(Arch Dermatol. 1992;128:1072-1077)

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