Alopecia Areata is a medical condition when the person that suffers from it, loses hair. Although it’s benign and it does not live scars, it can cause enormous stress for the patient. It can manifest itself in many different patterns. Types of alopecia areata are: diffuse alopecia areata, alopecia areata monolocularis, alopecia areata multilocularis, alopecia areata barbae, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. The last two types are the rarest and the hardest forms of this disease. Alopecia areata totalis is total loss of hair on the scalp and alopecia areata universalis is the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body.
Lack of body hair is not just esthetic problem. The disease lives you without eyelashes, eyebrows, nose hair so you became unprotected from dust, bacteria, sun and many other harmful elements. Most of us don’t even think about the hair that way. Alopecia Universalis may be short-termed or remain permanently. It’s always possible that the hair will grow back, even for those with 100% hair loss over many years, but it is not possible to predict when regrowth will occur.
People who suffer from it are otherwise healthy, but there is a greater chance to experience thyroid disease and vitiligo than other people. Many patients with Alopecia Universalis are born with some hair but begin losing it very quickly. The disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait that is caused by a mutation in a gene dubbed HR in chromosome band 8p21.2 -- the human version of the gene that is responsible for hairlessness in mice. It is very likely the disease is genetically predetermined but there were no enough studies to confirm it. Additional causes that can trigger the disease are not familiar.
There was a study about a family which was affected with Alopecia Universalis . Three consecutive generations had it. Children with the disease were otherwise healthy, without any inflammatory processes that could inhibit hair growth. Research showed very few hair follicles, they were born without eyebrows or eyelashes, without any hair in general and never developed them.
Research contained analysis of the chromosomes of seven affected members from the family that had this condition in order to detect any genetic similarities that would show that the disease is genetically predetermined. They found a marker at the location 8p12, persistent in all seven family members, but they were not able to determine the exact gene that was at this location.
Researchers conducted experiments with mice, so they can determine if there is genetic similarity in hairless mice with the ones they found in human. The good thing is that they found several examples of alopecia in mice. They identified a cDNA sequence that gave them the coding sequence of the human "hairless" gene. This gene is expressed in the skin and brain in humans and mice. It appears to encode a zinc-finger transcription factor. The results of the research showed that there is mutation in the "hairless" genes of all the affected individuals in the family that was studied.
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