The Role for miRNAs in Alopecia Areata

PI Name: 
Natalia V. Botchkareva, MD, PhD
Research Grant


This project aims to define the role of miR-486 and miR-451 in hair growth and hair follicle immune privilege in normal and affected skin in the mouse model and to determine the role of miR-486 and miR-451 in the response of human hair follicles to pro-inflammatory cytokines.


Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that is manifested by the hair loss as a result of hair follicle damage induced by the immune cells. Data obtained during the last decade has revealed that distinct signaling pathways implicated in the development of alopecia areata are of particular importance. Recent data demonstrate that activity of these signaling pathways is governed by microRNAs (miRNAs). These are small ribonucleic acid molecules, which negatively regulate gene expression by interaction with their multiple targets in a nucleotide sequence-specific manner. miRNAs are crucially important for normal skin and hair follicle development, as well as they contribute to the development of the varieties of the pathological conditions inside and outside of the skin. However, how miRNAs are involved in the mediating signaling induced by pro-inflammatory molecules in alopecia areata affected skin and their role in the control of inflammation and hair follicle damage are largely unknown. This project will look at how two of those miRNAs, namely miR-486 and miR-451, impacts the development and progression of alopecia areata. Because miR-486 and miR-451 are implicated in the regulation of the genes that control inflammation and cell death, we will test the hypothesis that miR- 486 and miR-451 are involved in the hair follicle protection from the immune attack and toxic effects induced by pro-inflammatory signals. This project will also explore how miR-486 and miR-451 modulate the activity of the different molecular signals in the hair follicle cells that are essential for hair follicle health.


The identification of the role of micro RNAs (miRNAs) in pathogenesis could lead to novel therapies for alopecia areata.