Male New Zealand Black/KN mice: A novel model for autoimmune-induced permanent alopecia?

A. Hiroi, T. Ito, N. Seo, K. Uede, T. Yoshimasu, M. Ito, K. Nakamura, N. Ito, R. Paus, F. Furukawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Irreversible, permanent and scarring alopecia is associated with several autoimmune diseases, including all autoimmune connective tissue disorders. The pathogenesis of autoimmune-induced permanent alopecia (APA) is still poorly understood, and instructive, simple mouse models for the study of APA are needed urgently. During the course of our studies in a well-established mouse model for chronic rheumatoid arthritis, the New Zealand Black/KN (NZB/KN) mouse, we noticed that ageing male NZB/KN mice developed spontaneous APA. Objectives To study whether alopecia seen in ageing male NZB/KN mice displays key features of human APA and may, thus, be a useful new mouse model for clinically relevant APA research. Methods: NZB/KN, the F1 hybrid of NZW/N Slc x NZB/KN (W/BKN F1), the F1 hybrid of NZB/KN x NZW/N Slc (BKN/W F1), and the F2 hybrid of W/BKN F1 x W/BKN F1 mice were employed in this study, in order to check which strain carries the highest risk of alopecia development. Besides routine histology, CD3, CD4 and CD8 expression as well as immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgM deposition in hair follicles were investigated by immunohistology/ immunofluorescence. Mast cell distribution/degranulation and Ki-67 (proliferation)/TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labelling) (apoptosis) positive cells were also analysed. Results: Only F2 male NZB/KN mice were prone to develop alopecia, suggesting that Y chromosome-associated gene(s) are involved in the pathogenesis of APA, which incidence rises with increasing age. The lesional alopecia skin in 12-month-old male NZB/KN mice showed a sharp decline in hair follicle density, thus meeting a key criterion of permanent alopecia. Both macroscopically and histologically, the alopecia seen in these mice resembled in many respects different stages of clinical APA, such as alopecia associated with chronic discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) in humans. Lesional APA hair follicles in mice displayed intrafollicular and perifollicular mononuclear cell infiltrates, as well as an increased number of activated (degranulated) perifollicular mast cells. In the fully developed lesion, many CD4+ cells were seen in perifollicular locations, including the epithelial stem cell region (bulge), and also contained a few CD8+ T cells. IgM deposits were found in the follicular basement membrane zone (BMZ). Both in the bulge and the hair matrix region of the affected anagen hair follicles, there were signs of massive keratinocyte apoptosis. Conclusions: Our currently available data suggest that male but not female NZB/KN mice may indeed represent a suitable mouse model for APA, with some similarities to the permanent alopecia seen in human DLE patients, although additional and confirmatory investigations are needed before this mouse strain can be accepted as a murine equivalent of APA in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-445
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Lupus erythematosus
  • NZB/KN mouse
  • Scarring alopecia
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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