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Treatment of alopecia areata in C3H/HeJ mice with the topical immunosuppressant FK506 (Tacrolimus)

Alopecia areata-like hairloss has been observed in C3H/HeJ mice and can be defined as a tissue-restricted T cell mediated disease of the hair follicle. Because FK506 has been described as suppressing T cell mediated autoimmune diseases, we addressed the question whether topical treatment of C3H/HeJ mice with FK506 has a beneficial effect on alopecia areata (AA). For this purpose six C3H/HeJ mice with AA were treated topically with 0.1% FK506 ointment, four mice received the vehicle only. Four of six FK506-treated mice showed complete hair regrowth, whereas 1/4 vehicle-treated mice regrew hair. Mice treated successfully with FK506 had reduced perifollicular infiltrates of CD4+ and CD8+ cells and a decreased expression of MHC class I and II and ICAM-1 on hair follicle epithelium, compared to control mice. We conclude that topical treatment with FK506 is able to induce hair regrowth in AA of C3H/HeJ mice, most likely by suppressing the T cell mediated immune response.


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