Repigmentation patterns induced by NB-UVB and their relationship with melanocytic migration and proliferation in vitiligo

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Vitiligo is the most commonly acquired depigmentation disorder of the skin and is characterized by the destruction of melanocytes. Ultraviolet phototherapy with narrow band (UVB-NB) induces proliferation, differentiation, maturation, and migration of melanocytes. The clinical repigmentation is featured by follicular, marginal, and diffuse patterns. The aim of this study was to observe the process involved in the melanocyte migration and proliferation among these patterns and the unresponsive lesions following UVB-NB phototherapy. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and c-KIT were used as markers of melanocyte migration and differentiation, respectively.


A total of 17 vitiligo patients under UVB-NB therapy were selected. The patients expressed the three repigmentation patterns as well as unresponsive lesions at the conclusion of a 30-session cycle. Skin biopsies were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and qRT-PCR.


We found an increased expression of c-KIT in the follicular pattern compared to the diffuse pattern that was expressed predominantly of FAK. Marginal pattern expressed both proteins. The unresponsive achromic lesions showed poor expressions of both markers.


Proliferation was prominent in the follicular pattern, but migration was prominent in the diffuse pattern. For the marginal pattern, both dynamics were present. The absence of these markers in vitiligo lesions suggests a lack of response to UVB-NB.

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