In the non-scarring inflammatory hair loss disease Alopecia areata (AA) lymphocytes specifically target hair follicles (HFs) and disrupt hair growth. However, what elicits the primary immune cell attack on HFs is not known. The primary scarring (cicatricial) alopecias are a group of disorders that result in permanent destruction of HFs. Treatment options for both AA and scarring alopecia affected individuals are limited and those available are not fully effective. AA and scarring alopecias are poorly understood, but it is hypothesized that they involve autoimmune mechanisms that target the HF bulbs, or the HF bulge stem cells, respectively.
Using scalp skin HF biopsies and cultured cells, and a combination of quantitative PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, you will investigate factors known to promote and maintain Treg activity. Second, using in vitro co-culture, you will challenge PBMCs with HF cells derived from different individuals.