Alopecia (hair loss) is among the most distressing side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Little progress has been made, however, in its prevention or treatment, partly because of the tack of suitable experimental model. In recent work on the treatment of myelogenous leukemia in the rat, the following observations were made: (i) treatment of 8-day-old rats with cytosine arabinoside consistently produced alopecia, and (ii) ImuVert, a biologic response modifier derived from the bacterium Serratia marcescens, uniformly produced complete protection against the alopecia. In subsequent experiments, both cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin also produced alopecia in this model, and the doxorubicin-induced alopecia was prevented by treatment with ImuVert. The potential relevance of these observations to chemotherapy-induced alopecia in the clinical setting should be examined.
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