Archives for genetics

Stress and Alopecia Areata – What’s the connection?

One of the most common questions that comes up in our online alopecia support group is “does stress cause alopecia?”  I always cringe when I see the word ’cause’ because quite honestly, if researchers knew the exact ’cause’ then they would be able to find a ‘cure.’ I would much rather see the use of the word ‘trigger’ instead of ’cause.’  Learning to look at the four pillars of all autoimmune disorders and how they work may help to unravel the correlation between stress and alopecia areata.  After having alopecia areata for over 40 years, stepping back and looking at these four pillars helped me learn not to look for one specific trigger but start focusing on the whole picture… Read more…

Lifetime incidence rate of Alopecia Areata raised to 2.1%

AE 8In 1995, the Mayo Clinic released a study on the incidence rate of alopecia areata in Olmsted County, Minnesota consisting of 292 participants who were newly diagnosed with alopecia areata from 1975 to 1989. This study set the only known lifetime risk for alopecia areata at 1.7%. (Lifetime risk means the risk of developing a disease during ones lifetime.) A newer study, with 530 qualifying participants, was recently released accessing the same data parameters but from 1990 to 2009 to document the most current lifetime incidence risk. They found that the risk of a person developing alopecia areata during their lifetime has increased to 2.1%.

Nearly 6.7m people in the U.S. (over 149m worldwide) will develop alopecia areata in their lifetime.

At 2.1%, the cumulative lifetime incidence of AA from this recent 20-year period was slightly higher than 1.7% observed in the older study. Similarly, REP data analyzed in studies of other autoimmune-associated diseases have shown that incidence of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosis have also increased in the region in recent years. These data do not refute the hypothesis that autoimmune disease incidence maybe rising, generally.


Source: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v134/n4/full/jid2013464a.html

Pathophysiology of Alopecia Areata

The exact pathophysiology of alopecia areata remains unknown. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that alopecia areata is a T-cell–mediated autoimmune condition that is most likely to occur in genetically predisposed individuals.[1]

Autoimmunity

Much evidence supports the hypothesis that alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. The process appears to be T-cell mediated, but antibodies directed to hair follicle structures also have been found with increased frequency in alopecia areata patients compared with control subjects. Using immunofluorescence, antibodies to anagen-phase hair follicles were found in as many as 90% of patients with alopecia areata compared with less than 37% of control subjects. Read more…

Genetic Basis of Alopecia Areata Established for First Time by Columbia Research Team

A team of investigators led by Columbia University Medical Center has uncovered eight genes that underpin alopecia areata, one of the most common causes of hair loss, as reported in a paper in the July 1, 2010 issue of Nature. Since many of the genes are also implicated in other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes – and treatments have already been developed that target these genes – this discovery may lead to new treatments for the 5.3 million Americans affected by alopecia areata. Read more…