Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

pp 2227-2228


  • Johannes BayerAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, University Hospital of Muenster
  • , Stefan BeissertAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, University Hospital of Muenster

Definition and Characteristics

Vitiligo is an acquired, idiopathic hypomelanotic disorder in which a progressive loss of melanocytes from the epidermis and hair follicles results in well-circumscribed cutaneous depigmented macules [1].


Vitiligo is the most common pigmentary disorder worldwide. The prevalence is 0.5–2% without a predilection for age, sex or race.


Several candidate genes have been proposed for vitiligo susceptibility, including genes important for melanin biosynthesis, response to oxidative stress and/or regulation of autoimmunity [2,3]. However, none of these vitiligo susceptibility genes has yet been identified. Case-control studies examining human leukocyte antigens (HLA) have shown a positive association with HLA DR4 and a negative association with HLA DR3 [4].

Molecular and Systemic Pathophysiology

The mechanisms leading to the loss of pigment cells are not yet fully underst ...

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