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BACKGROUND:  Alopecia areata (AA) has features of both autoimmune and atopic pathogenesis, but information on the risk of people with AA developing autoimmune and atopic conditions is limited. OBJECTIVE:  To assess the prevalence and incidence of atopic and autoimmune conditions in people with AA. METHODS:  This was a population-based cohort study of 8051 adults with newly diagnosed AA (AA group) and 32 204 adults in the matched control group, using the UK Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) network primary care database, 2009-2018 (trial registration number: NCT04239521). Baseline prevalence of common atopic and autoimmune conditions, and risk of new-onset atopic and autoimmune disease, were estimated. RESULTS:  Atopic and autoimmune conditions were more prevalent in the AA group than the control group (atopic 37.2% vs. 26.7%, autoimmune 11.5% vs. 7.9%). The AA group were 43% more likely to develop any new-onset atopic condition [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.43. 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.28-1.61] and 45% more likely to develop any autoimmune condition (aHR 1.45, 95% CI 1.28-1.66) compared with the control group. When examining individual conditions, the AA group were at increased risk of atopic dermatitis (aHR 1.91, 95% CI 1.67-2.19), allergic rhinitis (aHR 1.32, 95% CI 1.14-1.54), autoimmune hypothyroidism (aHR 1.65, 95% CI 1.35-2.02), systemic lupus erythematosus (aHR 4.51, 95% CI 1.88-10.82) and vitiligo (aHR 2.39, 95% CI 1.49-3.82). There was no evidence for a higher incidence of other conditions examined. CONCLUSION:  People with AA have an increased burden of atopic and autoimmune comorbidity. This supports previous work suggesting that both T helper cell (Th)1 and Th2 immune responses may be implicated in the pathogenesis of AA.

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Journal article


Clin Exp Dermatol

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