Does Vitiligo-associated Autoimmunity Reduce Morbidity and Mortality?

Does Vitiligoassociated Autoimmunity Reduce Morbidity and Mortality image

The autoimmune nature of vitiligo may confer certain protective effects against various causes of mortality.

Vitiligo-associated autoimmunity may play a role in reducing morbidity and mortality, according to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

When researchers investigated the mortality of patients with vitiligo in a population-based cohort using the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database and the National Death Registry in South Korea, they found that vitiligo was associated with a 25% decreased risk of mortality compared with controls.

In total, 107,424 patients with incident vitiligo and 537,120 matched controls were included. The mortality rates were 34.8 and 45.3 per 10,000 person-years in patients and controls, respectively. In addition to cancer, other cause-specific mortality including infectious diseases, hematologic diseases, endocrine diseases, neurologic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and renal/urogenital disease was lower in patients with vitiligo.

Whether these findings are attributable to the autoimmune mechanism of vitiligo itself or to unexpected effects of vitiligo treatment modalities (e.g., phototherapy) remains to be clarified in future studies, the researchers conclude.

“Our findings are significant because they suggest that the autoimmune nature of vitiligo may confer certain protective effects against various causes of mortality, and they offer new avenues for research into the mechanisms underlying this protective effect,” says study author Hyun Jeong Ju, MD, PhD, Department of Dermatology, St. Vincent’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, in a news release. "Moreover, understanding the mortality risk in patients with vitiligo will lead to improved patient counseling, health monitoring, and overall management strategies for patients."

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