Acta Histochem Cytochem. 2010 Feb 27;43(1):9-17. Epub 2010 Feb 26.

Potential involvement of the stem cell factor receptor c-kit in alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia: histopathological, immunohistochemical, and semiquantitative investigations.

Ashrafuzzaman M, Yamamoto T, Shibata N, Hirayama TT, Kobayashi M.


Department of Pathology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.


Alopecia areata (AAR) and androgenetic alopecia (AGA) are two major forms of alopecia based on altered hair growth condition. In general, the cell cycle is regulated by several mechanisms including the stem cell factor/c-kit signaling. To assess a role for stem cell activity in alopecia, we performed histopathological, immunohistochemical, and semiquantitative analyses of c-kit as well as Ki-67 in scalp biopsy specimens obtained from 14 patients with AAR, 18 patients with AGA, and 6 age-matched control subjects, using the specific antibodies. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded skin sections were examined. Immunoreactivities for Ki-67 and c-kit were localized in keratinocytes and melanocytes in the outermost layer of hair follicles. The mean length of hair follicles was significantly shorter in the AAR and AGA groups than in the control group. The mean number of Ki-67-immunoreactive cells per follicle was significantly reduced in the AAR and AGA groups as compared with the control group. The mean number of c-kit-immunoreactive cells per follicle was significantly increased in the AAR and AGA groups as compared with the control group. Our results indicate that c-kit is upregulated in the hair follicle cells in these forms of alopecia, and suggest that the upregulation reflects a negative feedback mechanism in response to possible downregulation of the ligand stem cell factor.

PMID: 20300219 [PubMed]PMCID: PMC2840221