BACKGROUND. Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by hair loss mediated by CD8+ T cells. There are no reliably effective therapies for AA. Based on recent developments in the understanding of the pathomechanism of AA, JAK inhibitors appear to be a therapeutic option; however, their efficacy for the treatment of AA has not been systematically examined.
METHODS. This was a 2-center, open-label, single-arm trial using the pan-JAK inhibitor, tofacitinib citrate, for AA with >50% scalp hair loss, alopecia totalis (AT), and alopecia universalis (AU). Tofacitinib (5 mg) was given twice daily for 3 months. Endpoints included regrowth of scalp hair, as assessed by the severity of alopecia tool (SALT), duration of hair growth after completion of therapy, and disease transcriptome.
RESULTS. Of 66 subjects treated, 32% experienced 50% or greater improvement in SALT score. AA and ophiasis subtypes were more responsive than AT and AU subtypes. Shorter duration of disease and histological peribulbar inflammation on pretreatment scalp biopsies were associated with improvement in SALT score. Drug cessation resulted in disease relapse in 8.5 weeks. Adverse events were limited to grade I and II infections. An AA responsiveness to JAK/STAT inhibitors score was developed to segregate responders and nonresponders, and the previously developed AA disease activity index score tracked response to treatment.
CONCLUSIONS. At the dose and duration studied, tofacitinib is a safe and effective treatment for severe AA, though it does not result in a durable response. Transcriptome changes reveal unexpected molecular complexity within the disease.
TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02197455 and NCT02312882.
FUNDING. This work was supported by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases National Institutes of Health grant R01 AR47223 and U01 AR67173, the National Psoriasis Foundation, the Swedish Society of Medicine, the Fernström Foundation, the Locks of Love Foundation, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and the Ranjini and Ajay Poddar Resource Fund for Dermatologic Diseases Research.
Milène Kennedy Crispin, Justin M. Ko, Brittany G. Craiglow, Shufeng Li, Gautam Shankar, Jennifer R. Urban, James C. Chen, Jane E. Cerise, Ali Jabbari, Mårten C.G. Winge, M. Peter Marinkovich, Angela M. Christiano, Anthony E. Oro, Brett A. King
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.