Most patients with active vitiligo (82% of 61) have antibodies to antigens of normal human melanocytes that can be detected by specific immunoprecipitation of radioiodinated, detergent-soluble, melanocyte macromolecules. Such antibodies were present in only 12% of patients with melanoma and in none of 35 patients with nonpigmentary skin diseases. The antibodies were directed to a common antigen(s) on melanocytes that was not present on normal fibroblasts or keratinocytes. These observations suggest that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease mediated by antibodies to melanocyte-associated antigen(s).
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