Vitiligo melanocytes in long-term culture show normal constitutive and cytokine-induced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and major histocompatibility complex class i and class Ii molecules

Hedley, S.J.; Metcalfe, R.; Gawkrodger, D.J.; Weetman, A.P.; Mac Neil, S.

British Journal of Dermatology 139(6): 965-973


ISSN/ISBN: 0007-0963
PMID: 9990357
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1998.02550.x
Accession: 047942263

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The aetiology of vitiligo remains unclear. An autoimmune involvement has been suggested and, in this study, we examine whether melanocytes cultured from unaffected regions of the skin of vitiligo patients are more susceptible to immune attack by investigating constitutive and cytokine-stimulated expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) (under three media variants) and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II (under one medium). Both normal and vitiligo melanocytes had similarly low constitutive expression of ICAM-1 and MHC class II molecules, whereas > 95% of cells had high constitutive expression of MHC class I. Normal and vitiligo melanocytes showed similar and significant increases in the expression of all three immune-related molecules in response to the cytokine, interferon-gamma. The expression of ICAM-1 was also similarly increased by the cytokine, tumour necrosis factor-alpha in both cells. Additionally, it was noted that, once the melanocyte cultures were established under experimental conditions, the rate of proliferation of vitiligo melanocytes did not differ significantly from that of normal melanocytes. In conclusion, we suggest that vitiligo melanocytes, once in culture, do not have intrinsic differences from normal melanocytes with respect to the expression of immune-related molecules.