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World Allergy Organization Journal

Open Access

New insights in vitiligo: cellular immune response

  • Natasha Ferraroni1,
  • Rosemeire Navickas Constantino-Silva2,
  • Camila Cacere2,
  • Juliano Cesar Barros3,
  • Rafael Aragon Cabrera3,
  • Anete Grumach2, 4 and
  • Carlos D'apparecida Santos Machado Filho3
World Allergy Organization Journal20158:649

Published: 8 April 2015


Vitiligo is a skin disorder that affects 1% to 2% of the world population, independently of ethnicity. It presents with white plaques and skin discoloration. The presence of antibodies against melanocytes confirms the autoimmune phenomena in this disease. Regarding cellular imune response in active vitiligo, it seems to be an imbalance between T cell CD8+ and CD4+, and, moreover, an altered expression of Natural Killer (NK) in periphery, although very few data are available. We evaluated the cellular immune effect (T cell expression) in peripheral blood in vitiligo patients who received antigenic stimulus (autologous graft), in comparison with patients with inactive Vitiligo who received autologous graft in comparison with patients with active Vitiligo without grafting.


Antigenic stimulus was done with autologous skin graft (Punch 3mm): substitution of vitiligo area with normal skin in group A (inactive vitiligo patients), and group B (active vitiligo patients). Group C: healthy individuals. Quantitative numbers of T lymphocytes subpopulations (CD3, CD4, CD8) and NK cells (CD16, CD56, CD94, CD158a) were determined by Flow cytometry. (CD94+ refers as an inhibitor receptor expressed in NK cells, CD158+ refers as an apoptosis receptor in NK cells).


Three groups were evaluated: A) Inactive vitiligo patients engrafted (n=10); B) active vitiligo patients without engraftment (n=10) and C) healthy individuals (n=10). The evaluation was performed on days 0,+8,+30,+60 after skin engraftment. There was no difference of CD3+CD4+ among all groups. CD3+CD8+ was lower in patients with active vitiligo (p=0.003), CD94+ was lower in patients with inactive vitiligo (p=0.01), both comparing to healthy individuals. CD158+ was higher in patients with active vitiligo, although there was no statistically significance.


Data suggests that cytotoxic activity of NK cells may be down regulated in patients with active vitiligo.


Supported by FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).

Authors’ Affiliations

Hospital De Base Do Distrito Federal, Brazil
Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, Center of Research, Brazil
Outpatient Group of Vitiligo, Brazil
Outpatient Group of Recurrent Infections, Brazil


© Ferraroni et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.