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A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2014 February;149(1):25-45

language: English

Alopecia Areata: news on diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment

D’Ovidio R.

Trichology Group of Associazione Italiana Dermatologi Ambulatoriali (AIDA), Bari, Italy


This review focuses on recent changes in the clinical, pathogenetic and therapeutic developments with regards to Alopecia Areata. Some new clinical forms and some phenomena have been described for the first time in recent years. Several phenomena previously observed such as the Renbok, the Koebner and the possibility that an exclamation mark hair can resume its physiological growth have been confirmed. The pathogenetic role of cytotoxic cells is increasingly evident, as well as the deficit of cells and the factors regulating the autoimmune response. The concept of immune privilege of the hair follicle has had further confirmation and have been identified some of the molecular mechanisms such as the expression of the receptors for killer lymphocytes on the trichokeratinocytes of the Outer Root Sheat. There is a renewed interest on the possible role of mast cell as a key element in the acute and chronic phases of the disease. New therapies are focused on the inhibition of the killer cells directed against antigens not yet fully specified of the hair follicle and on the restoration of the immune privilege of this structure. Alopecia Areata is a disease with high emotional impact, able to reduce the quality of life of patients and their family entourage. It is often frustrating for those affected and for the therapists due to its evolution quite unpredictable and the mixed response to the few validated therapies. Investment in research originate almost exclusively from voluntary associations of patients, which need to be known and supported.

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