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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Disease mechanisms in the C3H/HeJ Mouse Model of Alopecia Barekatain, Armin


Alopecia areata (AA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of hair follicles manifesting as patchy areas of hair loss on the scalp and body. Development of AA is associated with pen- and intra-follicular inflammation of anagen stage hair follicles, primarily by CD4+ and CD8+ cells. We hypothesized that if cell-mediated cytotoxicy against hair follicles is to be a component of the hair loss disease mechanism, increased expression of genes and products typical of cytotoxic cells, as well as increased apoptosis activity within affected hair follicles, would be expected to occur in the lesional skin compared to the normal skin. Furthermore, we studied gene expression levels of multiple cytokines and characteristic chemokines, using the C3FI/HeJ mouse model of AA. mRNA expression levels of granzyme A, granzyme B, perform Fas, Fas ligand, TNF-cL, TNF-aRl and R2, TRAIL, TRAILR, TRAMP, Thi-, Th2-, and Th17-associated cytokines, as well as multiple chemokines were compared between the skin, draining lymph nodes, thymus and spleens of normal and AA-affected mice using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. FasL, granzyme A, granzyme B, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were all highly up-regulated in the skin of AA-affected mice. Immunohistochemical studies of the skin revealed that, although greater numbers of granzyme B and FasL expressing cells were present in AA affected skin, the cells were morphologically diffusely distributed and not exclusively located within the focal pen- and intrafollicular infiltrate. The majority of these cells were further characterized as mast cells, which were also found in substantially greater numbers in the skin of mice with AA compared to their normal haired controls. Almost no perform expressing cells were identified in AA affected mouse skin and TUNEL staining suggested relatively limited apoptosis activity in hair follicle keratinocytes. In conclusion, while granzymes and FasL may play important roles in disease development, the profiles and patterns of expression are not consistent with direct cell-mediated cytotoxic action against the follicular epithelium in chronic mouse AA. Potentially, hair growth inhibiting cytokines may play a more dominant role in AA development than previously thought. Furthermore, mast cells, with their increased presence around hair follicles in the AA affected mouse skin and their ability to express granzyme B and FasL, are suggested as potential key players in the pathogenesis of AA.

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