Comprehensive profiling of skin and blood of alopecia areata patients enrolled in an open label trial of tofacitinib

PI Name: 
Ali Jabbari, MD, PhD
Pilot & Feasibility Grant


The purpose of this project is to identify biomarkers in the skin and blood of alopecia areata patients enrolled in tofacitinib clinical trial that would allow us to precisely and accurately track the disease. 


Alopecia areata (AA) is a disease where patients lose some or all of the hair on their bodies. The disease is caused by problems with the immune system, the system of the body that is responsible for fighting off infections. In AA, however, the immune system is targeting the body’s own hair instead of an infection, making it an “autoimmune” disease. There are currently no confirmed treatments for AA, although patients are usually given steroid injections to the areas involved. While some people with AA get better, many patients do not, and some patient’s disease progresses to involve the entire body. It is not fully understood how the disease begins, making it difficult to design treatments for the disease. We have recently completed studies that have pinpointed immune signals that are needed to develop AA. Additionally, we have identified a class of drugs that may be helpful in treating the disease. At Columbia University, we are preparing for a clinical trial to test tofacitinib, a drug that has recently been approved for use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease. In the study proposed here, we are piggybacking onto this trial in order to identify biomarkers in the skin and the blood that would allow us to precisely and accurately track the disease.


Biomarkers are important in evaluating how well treatments in clinical trials work, and this work could allow researchers to determine which new treatments are going to work the best for alopecia areata. If the study realizes its goal of finding a predictor of outcome for AA patients considering treatment with tofacitinib, it will be of great utility to physicians.


Jabbari A, Sansaricq F, Cerise J, Chen JC, Bitterman A, Ulerio G, Borbon J, Clynes R, Christiano AM, Mackay-Wiggan J. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Evaluate the Efficacy of Tofacitinib in Moderate to Severe Patch-Type Alopecia Areata, Totalis, and Universalis. J Invest Dermatol. 2018 Jul;138(7):1539-1545. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.01.032.