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Surgical induction of alopecia areata (AA) via full-thickness grafting of spontaneous AA-affected C3H/HeJ mouse skin to naïve recipients has been a primary method of transferring the AA disease model phenotype. However, this method is associated with the need to perform an invasive procedure that could negatively impact animal wellbeing. Therefore, a rodent model that rapidly develops AA at a predictable rate and without the need to perform invasive surgical procedures on the mice is essential for studying the pathogenesis of AA. Here we describe a cell injection technique using cultured skin-draining lymph node cells (LNCs) injected intradermally into naïve recipients to induce rapid AA development. The cultured LNCs can reach ~ten fold expansion after 6 days with specific cytokine stimulation. The LNCs derived from a single AA affected mouse donor can induce AA development in more than 80 naïve mice within 2-18 weeks. For comparative control studies, mice receiving cultured LNCs from normal donors remain normally haired. The method enables the production of large numbers of AA mice for use in research and treatment development studies while avoiding the use of surgical procedures. We anticipate that the protocol can also be adapted for use in other mouse autoimmune disease models.


Eddy H C Wang, Kevin J McElwee. Nonsurgical Induction of Alopecia Areata in C3H/HeJ Mice via Adoptive Transfer of Cultured Lymphoid Cells. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2020;2154:121-131

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PMID: 32314212

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