Epigenetics of alopecia areata

Year: 
2015
PI Name: 
Angela Christiano, PhD
Type:
Research Grant
Status: 
Complete

Summary

This project aims to define epigenetic risk factors contributing to allele specific variation in alopecia areata (AA) susceptibility genes and to identify epigenetic risk factors contributing to alopecia areata disease occurrence and progression. These analyses in the bona fide target and effector tissues of AA will elucidate important epigenetic factors that play a role in disease susceptibility and progression and may provide insight to other “common cause” autoimmune diseases.

Abstract

Alopecia areata (AA) is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the US. The chronic nature of AA profoundly impacts patients and no proven treatments are yet available. As a group, autoimmune diseases collectively carry a tremendous public health burden, imparting a severe economic and social impact globally. We recently completed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genes that contribute to development of AA, and identified eight potential susceptibility genes, though more are likely to exist. In addition to the genes themselves, we believe that epigenomic processes (factors which modify the expression of genes) are pivotal in determining the course of AA and can be used as markers of prognosis. Since the lack of information about the underlying pathophysiology is the major obstacle in identifying novel effective treatments, definition of the genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of AA will be truly transformative and has the potential to lead to new treatments for AA patients.

Impact

In addition to the genes themselves, epigenomic processes (factors which modify the expression of genes) are pivotal in determining the course of AA and can be used as markers of prognosis. Definition of the genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of AA will be truly transformative and has the potential to lead to new treatments for AA patients. 

Publications

  • Wang E, Do C, Tycko B, Christiano AM. Epigenetic regulation of alopecia areata [Abstract 409]. J Investig Dermatol. 2016 May;136(5S):S72. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.02.443.
  • Wang E, Chren JC, Christiano AM. Efficacy of topical Vorinostat in the reversal of alopecia areata [Abstract 688]. J Investig Dermatol.  2017 May;137(5S):S118. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2017.02.711.
  • Wang E, DeStefano G, Patel A, Drill E, Harel S, Cela C, Tavazoie M, Christiano AM. Identification of differentially expressed miRNAs in alopecia areata that target immune-regulatory pathways. Genes Immun. 2017 Mar;18(2):100–104. doi: 10.1038/gene.2017.4.