UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Dermatology | Immune System Diseases | Immunopathology | Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases | Translational Medical Research


Vitiligo is a disease of the skin characterized by the appearance of white spots. Significant progress has been made in understanding vitiligo pathogenesis over the past 30 years, but only through perseverance, collaboration, and open-minded discussion. Early hypotheses considered roles for innervation, microvascular anomalies, oxidative stress, defects in melanocyte adhesion, autoimmunity, somatic mosaicism, and genetics. Because theories about pathogenesis drive experimental design, focus, and even therapeutic approach, it is important to consider their impact on our current understanding about vitiligo. Animal models allow researchers to perform mechanistic studies, and the development of improved patient sample collection methods provides a platform for translational studies in vitiligo that can also be applied to understand other autoimmune diseases that are more difficult to study in human samples. Here we discuss the history of vitiligo translational research, recent advances, and their implications for new treatment approaches.


autoimmunity, genetics, melanocyte oxidative stress, translational research, vitiligo

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Copyright © 2021 Katz and Harris. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Katz EL, Harris JE. Translational Research in Vitiligo. Front Immunol. 2021 Mar 2;12:624517. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.624517. PMID: 33737930; PMCID: PMC7962476. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in immunology

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.