A condition that affects 2% of the population. Between 20% and 30% of cases appear during childhood. Vitiligo causes depigmented patches to appear because immune system is destroying the melanocytes in the skin.
What is vitiligo?
A chronic skin pigmentation condition characterised by selective melanocyte loss.1 2
It is generally thought of as an autoimmune disease associated with genetic and environmental factors coupled with metabolic changes and oxidative stress2. However, none of these theories have fully explained the specific characteristics of this disorder.
There are two types of vitiligo: symmetrical or non-segmental vitiligo (NSV) and focal or segmental vitiligo (SV)2 3. The former is more common and is characterised by white macules, which are often symmetrical and often get larger in time. They tend to appear on the face, hands, elbows, knees, underarms and hips, but can develop anywhere on the body. Segmental vitiligo has a unilateral (asymmetric) distribution that may coincide with a whole or part of the skin segment (similar to a dermatome)3. Typical for this type of vitiligo is its rapid onset and the involvement of the pigment system of the hair follicle3.
Three in four patients with vitiligo start developing it before the age of 30 years2
Who does it affect?
Vitiligo is the most common skin depigmentation disorder. It is estimated that between 0.5% and 2% of the global population (children and adults combined)2 suffer from this condition.
154 million people affected in the world
There are no differences with respect to ethnicity or sex, although women are more likely to consult a dermatologist, probably because of the significant negative impact on social relationships and physical appearance2.
What causes vitiligo?
The pathogenesis of vitiligo is not entirely clear, although it is known that several factors are responsible for the loss of melanocytes in the epidermis of the affected area2. Several factors influence the appearance of vitiligo, but no one hypothesis has explained the characteristics of the condition to date.
A new cause
Researcher and dermatologist Dr Matteo Bordignon discovered a new molecule with an important role in the development of vitiligo in 2013: MIA protein 5. MIA protein interferes with the melanocytes, causing them to detach from the basal membrane and move toward the stratum corneum where they are exfoliated, along with their surrounding keratinocytes, leaving behind depigmented macules. According to this hypothesis, these melanocytes are not destroyed by the immune system, rather they are simply swept away, without any effect other than leaving a white patch, as has been observed habitually in clinical practice5.
Vitiligo has an enormous impact on quality of life
It is an asymptomatic skin condition that has extremely detrimental effects on patient quality of life, affecting primarily psychological aspects and causing low self-confidence, body image concerns and sometimes hindering social relations4. That is why people with vitiligo constantly search for ways to correct their skin pigmentation, at any age and whatever the form of the disease.
“I have been doing research into vitiligo for 15 years to be able to offer my patients an effective treatment. At last, there’s a solution to this condition,”
- Dr. Matteo Bordignon -
Since the discovery of MIA protein, Dr Matteo Bordignon has been working on this new approach. In collaboration with Laboratorios Bella Aurora, he has succeeded in developing the first efficient treatment for blocking the development of vitiligo and repigmenting white macules.
Do you have questions about white patches on your skin?
We’ll answer them within 24 hours.
1. Bordignon M, Luisetto R, Valente ML, Fedrigo M, Castellani C, Angelini A, et al. Melanoma Inhibitory Activity (MIA) Is Able to Induce Vitiligo-Like Depigmentation in an in vivo Mouse Model by Direct Injection in the Tail. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020 Aug 21;7:430.
2. Bergqvist C, Ezzedine K. Vitiligo: A Review. Dermatology. 2020;236(6):571-592.
3.Taieb A, Alomar A, Böhm M, Dell’anna ML, De Pase A, Eleftheriadou V, et al; Vitiligo European Task Force (VETF); European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV); Union Europeenne des Medecins Specialistes (UEMS). Guidelines for the management of vitiligo: the European Dermatology Forum consensus. Br J Dermatol. 2013 Jan;168(1):5-19. 4
4. Bellei B, Picardo M. Premature cell senescence in human skin: Dual face in chronic acquired pigmentary disorders. Ageing Res Rev. 2020 Jan;57:100981..
5. Bordignon M, Castellani C, Fedrigo M, Thiene G, Peserico A, Alaibac M, et al. Role of alpha5beta1 integrin and MIA (melanoma inhibitory activity) in the pathogenesis of vitiligo. J Dermatol Sci. 2013 Aug;71(2):142-5.