There is close relation between Vitiligo skin disorder and melanocytes cells. Vitiligo is a chronic condition in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. When melanocytes are destroyed in any part of the skin there is no coloring substance, melanin. and hence a pigmentation-less spots of Vitiligo appear in this area of skin.
Melanocytes are melanin-producing cells located in the bottom layer (the stratum basale) of the skin's epidermis, the middle layer of the eye (the uvea), the inner ear, meninges, bones and heart. Melanin is a pigment which is primarily responsible for the color of skin.
In people with Vitiligo, the immune cells (cells which fight infection) attack the melanocytes and kill them. When the melanocytes are destroyed or stop re-production of melanin; than as a result, white patches appear on the skin on different parts of the body. No one knows why the immune cells attack the melanocytes in people with Vitiligo. Similarly white patches also appears on both the mucous membrane (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose), and maybe in the retina (inner layer of the eyeball). The hair that grows on areas affected by Vitiligo sometimes turns white.
It is also observed that Genetics are also involved in destruction of melanocytes. We suggest this by the study of Vitiligo disease. Genetics is involved in about 20% of all patients of Vitiligo.
According to a research in which the presence of melanocytes and Vitiligo disease duration were co-related; Statistics prove that it is widely believed that Vitiligo is a pigmentary disorder. The results obtained were:
Active melanocytes were detected in black hair of 6.7% of Vitiligo patients and in 100% of apparently normal skin of the same patients and controls. On examining black hair of the 28 Vitiligo patients, 19 of them (67.9%) showed positive NKI/beteb stain. Disease duration was inversely co-related with melanocytes' present within hair follicles. Melanocytes were absent from 100% of white hair.