Archives for risk factors

Vitamin D Receptor May Play a Role With Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata (AA) is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with both AA and androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in past studies. It is hypothesized that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties, and its role in epidermal cell proliferation may be responsible for its role in inflammatory and skin conditions such as AA and AGA. Additionally, AA has been linked to a mutation to the VDR gene. However, no studies to date have evaluated whether VDR levels are linked with alopecia; therefore, researchers recently sought to find out if the VDRs in the skin and blood could serve as a potential pathogenic marker for these conditions. Read more…

To Boost or Not To Boost – The Immune System Explained

Oftentimes when people are first diagnosed, it’s because they find a bald spot which may lead them to believe that alopecia areata is specifically about their hair and the loss of it. However, alopecia areata is more about the immune system than it is about the hair follicle itself.

Certain portions of the human body have ‘immune privilege,’ meaning they are able to tolerate the introduction of foreign substances without eliciting an inflammatory immune response. Our hair follicles (primarily the epithelium surrounding the hair follicles) are part of the skin immune system. Our skin immune system is constantly signaling and talking to keep our lymphocytes at bay — letting them know that they are, indeed, supposed to be there. Read more…

Association Between Vitamin D Levels & Alopecia Areata

AE 14A recent study out of Turkey found that in those with alopecia areata, low vitamin D levels are common and may relate to a more severe disease state.

Vitamin D has a well-established effect on the immune system and is linked to a variety of autoimmune diseases. Researchers have found that vitamin D may be able to help in some aspects of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. That being said, there hasn’t been any research looking at the relationship between vitamin D and AA.

Recently, researchers at the Şişli Etfal Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi (Training and Research Hospital) in Turkey conducted a study to determine if vitamin D levels relate to AA and how vitamin D may affect disease severity. Read more…

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…

Commonly Associated Conditions

A large number of patients with alopecia areata still need to be examined to confirm whether an increased prevalence of these conditions exists among patients with alopecia areata. Unfortunately, most studies are performed on small groups; therefore, the data should be interpreted carefully.

Atopic dermatitis is seen in 9-26% of patients with alopecia areata. In the general population, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children in temperate developed countries varies from 5-20%. In adults, the prevalence decreases to 2-10%. Some authors have found atopy to be a poor prognostic factor for alopecia areata. Read more…

How Does Alopecia Areata Present Itself?

The natural history of alopecia areata is unpredictable. Extreme variations in duration and extent of the disease occur from patient to patient. Alopecia areata most often is asymptomatic, but some patients (14%) experience a burning sensation or pruritus in the affected area. The condition usually is localized when it first appears. Of patients with alopecia areata, 80% have only a single patch, 12.5% have 2 patches, and 7.7% have multiple patches. No correlation exists between the number of patches at onset and subsequent severity. Alopecia areata most often affects the scalp (66.8-95%); however, it can affect any hair-bearing area. Read more…