Background: Alopecia areata (AA) is considered an autoimmune disease with undetermined pathogenesis. Age at onset predicts distinct outcomes. A nationwide study of the relationship of AA with associated diseases stratified by onset age has rarely been reported.
Objective: We sought to clarify the role of atopic and autoimmune diseases in AA, thereby better understanding its pathogenesis.
Methods: A total of 4334 patients with AA were identified from the National Health Insurance Database in Taiwan from 1996 to 2008. A national representative cohort of 784,158 persons served as control subjects.
Results: Among patients with AA, there were significant associations with vitiligo, lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, autoimmune thyroid disease, and allergic rhinitis. Different ages at onset resulted in disparate comorbidities. Increased risk of atopic dermatitis (odds ratio [OR] 3.82, 95% confidence interval 2.67-5.45) and lupus erythematosus (OR 9.76, 95% confidence interval 3.05-31.21) were found in childhood AA younger than 10 years. Additional diseases including psoriasis (OR 2.43) and rheumatoid arthritis (OR 2.57) appeared at onset age 11 to 20 years. Most atopic and autoimmune diseases were observed at onset ages of 21 to 60 years. With onset age older than 60 years, thyroid disease (OR 2.52) was highly related to AA. Moreover, patients with AA had higher risk for more coexisting diseases than control subjects.
Limitations: We could not differentiate hypothyroidism from hyperthyroidism.
Conclusions: AA is related to various atopic and autoimmune diseases. Different associated diseases in each onset age group of AA can allow clinician to efficiently investigate specific comorbidities.
Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.