Severity of alopecia areata is associated with a polymorphism in the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist gene

J Invest Dermatol. 1994 Sep;103(3):387-90. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12395398.


One of the most potent pro-inflammatory mediators is the early-acting cytokine interleukin-1. Its actions are regulated by a structurally related anti-inflammatory cytokine known as the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. We have previously characterized a DNA polymorphism in this gene (IL-1rn) and have found associations between allele 2 and several chronic inflammatory diseases. In the present study, we tested the frequency of allele 2 of the IL-1rn gene in 90 patients with alopecia areata compared with 261 healthy controls. There was a significant association between allele 2 of the polymorphism and the severity of alopecia areata. The frequency of allele 2 increased from 24.1% in the control population to 25.9% in patchy alopecia areata, 36.1% in alopecia totalis, and 47.2% in alopecia universalis (p = 0.005). This severity association is similar to that found in other epithelial-related diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, lichen sclerosus, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Alopecia / genetics*
  • Alopecia / pathology*
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Genes*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1