Background: Alopecia areata (AA) is non-scarring hair loss. Its etiopathology is not fully known, most evidence considered AA an immunologically mediated disease. To compare serum levels of total immunoglobulin E (IgE) between AA patients and healthy subjects, and to assess whether AA is associated with atopy.
Methods: 50 AA patients and 50 healthy subjects were included in this study. Presence of atopy was elicited by detailed family and/ or personal history of atopy. Clinically patients were divided into 2 groups: patients with single patch of AA (alopecia unilocularis, AU), or with multiple patches (alopecia multilocularis, AM). Serum levels of IgE were measured in both groups.
Results: Serum levels of total IgE were significantly higher in patients than in controls (178 ± 154 ku/l vs. 118 ± 57 ku/l; P < 0.05). Evidence of atopy was present in 48% of AA patients compare to 18% of control subjects (P < 0.05). Patients with disease duration more than one year had significantly higher serum IgE levels (P < 0.05), and patients with AM had significantly higher serum IgE levels than patients with AU (267 ± 189 ku/l vs. 102 ± 32.3 ku/l; P < 0.05). Mean value of serum IgE did not vary significantly with patient’s age at onset, gender, history of atopy or family history of AA. Atopy was significantly associated with AM.
Conclusion: Total serum IgE is elevated in AA patients with significant association with severe and chronic disease irrespective of the presence of atopy. Atopic diseases were more frequent in AA patients with severe clinical presentation.