Alopecia areata: a multifactorial autoimmune condition

Teontor Simakou, John P Butcher, Stuart Reid, Fiona L Henriquez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that results in non-scarring hair loss, and it is clinically characterised by small patches of baldness on the scalp and/or around the body. It can later progress to total loss of scalp hair (Alopecia totalis) and/or total loss of all body hair (Alopecia universalis). The rapid rate of hair loss and disfiguration caused by the condition causes anxiety on patients and increases the risks of developing psychological and psychiatric complications. Hair loss in alopecia areata is caused by lymphocytic infiltrations around the hair follicles and IFN-γ. IgG antibodies against the hair follicle cells are also found in alopecia areata sufferers. In addition, the disease coexists with other autoimmune disorders and can come secondary to infections or inflammation. However, despite the growing knowledge about alopecia areata, the aetiology and pathophysiology of disease are not well defined. In this review we discuss various genetic and environmental factors that cause autoimmunity and describe the immune mechanisms that lead to hair loss in alopecia areata patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Early online date15 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2019


  • Alopecia areata
  • Polygenic autoimmune disease
  • Autoreactive lymphocytes
  • Oxidative stress
  • Infection
  • JAK inhibitors


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