To understand the pathophysiology of pigmentary disorders, such as vitiligo, it is essential to understand the development and homeostasis of melanocytes, the cells that produce the melanin pigment. In this chapter, we will concentrate on classical melanocytes that give rise to skin colour that can be lost in depigmented region of vitiligo patients. We address the origins of melanocytes during development, the homeostasis of these cells and their renewal during the course of life. We focus on the early alterations of melanocyte homeostasis that appeared before the depigmentation of the skin in vitiligo patients and highlight the key role of E-cadherin, the main cell-cell adhesion molecule that links melanocyte to the surrounding keratinocytes in the epidermis.
We thank all members of the laboratory, especially F. Luciani, A. Rubod, R. Wagner, and C. Grill who participated actively in the experimental work. This work was supported by the Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer, Société Française de Dermatologie (SFD), INCa, and ITMO Cancer and is under the program “Investissements d’Avenir” launched by the French Government and implemented by ANR LabEx CelTisPhyBio (ANR-11-LBX-0038 and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL).
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