Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract: Circumstantial evidence has previously suggested gonad derived steroid hormones and melanogenesis related antigens may modify human alopecia areata (AA). AA-like hair loss can be induced in C3H/HeJ mice after skin allografts from spontaneous AA-affected mice. This inducible model was used to evaluate hormones and hair follicle melanocyte presence as disease-severity modifiers. Ten females and 9 males were gonadectomized and received AA-affected allografts. All gonadectomized mice had 2–4 weeks delay in AA onset relative to non-gonadectomized controls. Two females and 4 males failed to develop any AA by 25 weeks after grafting. The experiment was repeated with gonadectomized female and male mice plus non-gonadectomized mice subcutaneously implanted with silastic capsules containing 80 μg 17β estradiol or 10 mg 5α dihydrotestosterone, respectively. Five of 11 ovariectomized and 9 of 11 non-ovariectomized, estradiol supplemented females developed AA with extremely rapid progression. Three of 8 castrated, but none of 11 non-castrated, dihydrotestosterone-supplemented males expressed AA. In a separate study, 14 mice were freeze-branded, producing white hair on the dorsal lumbar region, and later received full-thickness allografts. Thirteen mice developed patchy pigmented and non-pigmented hair loss. One mouse developed diffuse, pigmented hair loss, but with white hair survival persisting 25 weeks after grafting. The results suggest that gonadal steroid hormones can modulate C3H/HeJ mouse AA where estradiol promoted rapid progression of AA while dihydrotestosterone increased resistance to AA onset. In general, both pigmented and non-pigmented C3H/HeJ mouse hair is susceptible to AA. Murine AA susceptibility and severity clearly involves an interplay between genetic and epigenetic factors.
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