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Vitiligo road map


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Robert A. Schwartz, MD, Professor and Head, Dermatology, New Jersey Medical School, 185 S Orange Ave, Newark, NJ 07103-2714, or email:


Vitiligo is a depigmenting disorder stemming from melanocyte loss or dysfunction. It has a complex, multifaceted etiology. We constructed a “vitiligo road map,” consisting of basic science, clinical, and treatment components, in order to better portray our current understanding of vitiligo pathogenesis and reflect upon novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for future research. The melanocyte map elaborates on the molecular processes and intracellular signaling pathways initiated by various external autocrine/paracrine factors in representing normal melanocyte homeostatic functions modulating its viability, proliferation, differentiation, dendricity, migration, and melanogenic processes. This vitiligo map identifies known inducers/triggers of vitiligo onset and progression that cultivate a microenvironment for melanocyte disappearance, real or functional. This map describes the molecular mechanisms of currently utilized clinical and experimental treatments of vitiligo that facilitate repigmentation.