Am J Dermatopathol. 1999 Feb;21(1):46-50.

Diffuse alopecia with stem cell folliculitis: chronic diffuse alopecia areata or a distinct entity?

Kossard S.


Skin and Cancer Foundation, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia.


A 34-year-old woman presented with an 8-year history of slowly progressive diffuse nonscarring alopecia with loss of hair density. Scalp biopsy specimens showed increased miniaturized follicles and an asymmetric wedge-shaped lymphocytic infiltrate concentrated on the stem cell-rich region at the point of entry of sebaceous ducts and at bulge-like regions of multiple follicles. Several hair bulbs emerging at the stem cell compartment also were inflamed, but the hair bulbs in the deeper dermis and subcutis were spared. I speculate whether these findings may represent a stem cell folliculitis similar to the reaction pattern previously observed in graft versus host disease and in androgenetic alopecia. The additional presence of peribulbar lymphocytic inflammation could indicate that the patient had a variant of alopecia areata. The clinical presentation of a slowly progressive diffuse alopecia without progression to clinically recognizable alopecia areata and the prominent lymphocytic inflammation involving the stem cell compartment may prompt a reexamination of similar cases currently classified as chronic diffuse alopecia areata. The concept that lymphocytes can inhibit stem cell function without destroying the stem cells themselves needs consideration.

PMID: 10027527 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]