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Innate Immunity

Innate Immunity: Innate immunity describes immune responses in the body that are rapid, but somewhat nonspecific. Most immune responses against infections begin with innate immunity, and we hypothesize that vitiligo, an autoimmune disease, also begins with innate immune activation. As with adaptive immunity, a large number of innate immune genes that confer risk for vitiligo have been identified in genetic studies, suggesting a central role for this pathway as key to the development of vitiligo. Innate immunity is mediated by a number of different cell types, which identify infectious agents using receptors that recognize foreign patterns that aren’t present in the human body. These receptors are called pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). In addition to recognizing infectious agents, PRRs can also respond to tissue injury by recognizing damage associated molecular patterns, or DAMPs. It is likely that melanocytes are somewhat abnormal in vitiligo patients to start with, and release DAMPs that then activate innate immunity. We recently wrote a review describing the potential role of innate immunity in vitiligo.

Potential Role of Innate Immunity in Vitiligo Potential Role of Innate Immunity in Vitiligo

We are currently working to understand how innate immunity induces vitiligo in both human tissues and in our mouse model.