Prevention and treatment of alopecia areata with quercetin in the C3H/HeJ mouse model

Cell Stress Chaperones. 2012 Mar;17(2):267-74. doi: 10.1007/s12192-011-0305-3. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune non-scarring hair loss disorder. AA can be acute, recurrent, or chronic. Current therapeutic options for AA are limited, and there is no effective prevention for recurrent AA. We have previously shown a correlation between the expression of HSP70 (HSPA1A/B), a heat shock protein involved in the inflammatory response, and the onset of AA in the C3H/HeJ mouse model. In this study, we tested the effects of quercetin, a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties, on AA development and HSP70 expression in the C3H/HeJ model. Mice with spontaneous AA were treated with subcutaneous quercetin or sham injections. Hair regrowth was observed in lesional areas in all the quercetin-treated mice, but in none of the sham-treated mice. In addition, non-alopecic C3H/HeJ mice were heat-treated to induce alopecia, along with quercetin or sham injections. Whereas 24% of the heat-treated mice with sham injections developed alopecia, none of the mice receiving quercetin injections did. As expected, the level of HSP70 expression in quercetin-treated areas was comparable to control. Furthermore, we showed that systemic delivery of quercetin by intraperitoneal injections prevented/reduced spontaneous onset of AA. Our results demonstrated that quercetin provided effective treatment for AA as well as prevention of onset of AA in the C3H/HeJ model, and warrant further clinical studies to determine whether quercetin may provide both treatment for preexisting AA and prevention of recurrent AA. The ready availability of quercetin as a dietary supplement may lead to increased patient compliance and positive outcomes for AA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia Areata / drug therapy*
  • Alopecia Areata / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Subcutaneous
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Quercetin / administration & dosage
  • Quercetin / therapeutic use*
  • Random Allocation


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Quercetin