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The interleukin-7 (IL-7) signaling pathway plays an important role in regulation of T cell function and survival. We detected overexpression of IL-7 in lesional skin from both humans and C3H/HeJ mice with alopecia areata (AA), a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease of the hair follicle. We found that exogenous IL-7 accelerated the onset of AA by augmenting the expansion of alopecic T cells. Conversely, blockade of IL-7 stopped the progression of AA and reversed early AA in C3H/HeJ mice. Mechanistically, we observed that IL-7Rα blockade substantially reduced the total number of most T cell subsets, but relative sparing of regulatory T cells (Tregs). We postulated that short-term anti-IL-7Rα treatment in combination with a low dose of Treg-tropic cytokines might improve therapeutic efficacy in AA. We demonstrated that short-term IL-7Rα blockade in combination with low doses of Treg-tropic cytokines enhanced therapeutic effects in the treatment of AA, and invite further clinical investigation. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).


Zhenpeng Dai, Eddy Hsi Chun Wang, Lynn Petukhova, Yuqian Chang, Eunice Yoojin Lee, Angela M Christiano. Blockade of IL-7 signaling suppresses inflammatory responses and reverses alopecia areata in C3H/HeJ mice. Science advances. 2021 Apr;7(14)

PMID: 33811067

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