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Abstract

Background  In healthy skin, there is a molecular microenvironment that favours the survival of melanocytes and regulates their function. Keratinocytes synthesize and secrete several cytokines that have stimulatory and inhibitory effects on melanocytes.

Aim of the work  This work was conducted to evaluate the expression of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) mRNA levels in lesional skin of vitiligo, hypopigmented mycosis fungoides and hypopigmented tinea versicolor.

Patients and Methods  Forty eight patients (25 vitiligo, 14 hypopigmented mycosis fungoides, 9 hypopigmented tinea versicolor) and 10 healthy controls were included. A 4 mm punch skin biopsy was taken from lesional skin of patients, and the normal skin of controls for quantitative PCR examination of TNF-α and bFGF mRNA.

Results  The level of TNF-α mRNA in lesional skin of the three studied disorders was significantly higher than in the control group, while the level of bFGF mRNA was significantly lower in lesional skin of the three diseases than the control skin. A significant inverse correlation was demonstrated between the mRNA levels of the two studied cytokines in vitiligo and hypopigmented MF lesions.

Conclusion  The study’s findings demonstrate that the studied hypopigmented (vitiligo, hypopigmented MF, hypopigmented TV) disorders show similar changes in their cutaneous microenvironment with increased TNF-α and decreased bFGF mRNA expression. This cytokine microenvironment change may be implicated in the pigment loss and hence these cytokines may have future therapeutic implications.