Innate immune mechanisms in vitiligo: danger from within

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Adaptive Immunity; Animals; Genome-Wide Association Study; Humans; Immunity, Cellular; *Immunity, Innate; Stress, Physiological; Vitiligo


Dermatology | Immune System Diseases | Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases


Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease of the skin in which melanocytes are destroyed by antigen-specific T cells, resulting in patchy depigmentation. Although adaptive immunity plays a clear role in disease progression, initiating factors are largely unknown. Many studies report that cellular stress pathways are dysregulated in melanocytes from vitiligo patients, suggesting that melanocyte-intrinsic defects participate in disease pathogenesis. Recent studies reveal that melanocyte stress generates damage-associated molecular patterns that activate innate immunity, thus connecting stress to organ-specific inflammation. Genetic studies in vitiligo support a role for stress, innate immunity, and adaptive mechanisms. Here, we discuss advances in the field that highlight how cellular stress, endogenous danger signals, and innate immune activation promote the onset of vitiligo.

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Citation: Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Dec;25(6):676-82. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2013.10.010. Link to article on publisher's site.

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