Novel approaches to vitiligo treatment via modulation of mTOR and NF-κB pathways in human skin melanocytes
Vitiligo is an acquired, idiopathic skin disease characterized by the mostly progressive loss of the inherited skin color leading to white patches and in some cases to total depigmentation. The course of this ancient disease is still unknown. The worldwide prevalence range is 0.5-1%. The disease burden includes stigmatization, depression, impaired quality of life, lack of self-confidence, embarrassment and self-consciousness. To the best of our knowledge, the extent to which this chronic disease may exert an influence upon the life course of affected individuals has, to date, not been investigated. The material presented herein is the result of an accurate analysis of published literature. Moreover, we included our own data collected in two studies. To apply the concept of cumulative life course impairment in vitiligo, we looked at possible trigger factors, role of patient's age and the age at disease onset, disease duration and stigmatization. Stigmatization had the strongest impact. It is common in patients with an early disease onset, often leading to other disturbances. Our data revealed that older patients or those with a disease onset later in life adjust better to this chronic skin disorder and that they are less socially avoidant. However, long disease duration can also lead to impaired quality of life and obsession, while this group seems to be less depressed or embarrassed. Results from our own work with peer groups of these patients strongly support a positive long-lasting effect of treatment on quality of life of children, adolescents and adults. To which extent vitiligo may contribute to a cumulative life course impairment remains to be shown.