To more fully define the nature of the antibody response to melanocytes which is associated with vitiligo, a Western immunoblot assay was used to test the sera of 28 patients with vitiligo (21 with active non-segmental, and 7 with stable segmental diseases) and 26 normal individuals for antibodies to antigens in detergent extracts of melanocyte membrane fractions. Antibodies to melanocytes were found in 26 (93%) of the patients with vitiligo, and in 16 (62%) of the control individuals. Patients with vitiligo and control individuals both had antibodies to an 80 approximately 83 kD antigen. The patient with vitiligo, in addition, had antibody responses to antigens with MWs of 45, 65, and 110 kD. Antibodies to these antigens were present in 46, 25, and 31% of vitiligo patients, but in only 19%. 0%, amd 0%, respectively, of the normal individuals. The heterogeneity of the antibody responses to melanocytes in vitiligo was further confirmed by the presence of antibodies to at least 3 distinct antigens in one-third of vitiligo patients but in none of the normal individuals. There was no difference in antibody response between patients with generalized and segmental vitiligo, suggesting that the pathogenesis of diseases was similar in both cases.
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