An Adult’s Vitiligo in Estonia: Study of 155 Patients

M. Karelson*, 1, Kingo1 K.1, 2, Salum T.3, Kõks S.2, 4, 5, Silm H.1
1 Department of Dermatology and Venerology, University of Tartu, Estonia
2 Centre of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Tartu, Estonia
3 Tartu University Hospital, United Laboratories, Estonia
4 Department of Physiology, University of Tartu, Estonia
5 Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, Estonia, University of Life Sciences, Estonia

© 2009 Karelson et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Dermatology and Venerology, University of Tartu, 31 Raja Street, 50417 Tartu, Estonia; Tel: +3 72 7 319 710; Fax: +3 72 7 319 701; E-mail:


Background: Vitiligo is a common depigmentary disorder characterized by white patches of the skin, hair and mucous membranes due to selective destruction of melanocytes.

Objective: The objective of this study was to analyze the clinical characteristics, coexisting diseases, presence of autoantibodies and autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS) in Estonian adult vitiligo patients.

Methods:Adult patients with vitiligo were called to participate in the study at the Dermatology Department of Tartu University from January 2005 to July 2008. One hundred fifty five subjects were examined in 141 of those the level of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO-Ab), gastric parietal cell antibodies (PCA), antinuclear antibodies (ANA), antiadrenal cortex antibodies (AAA) and rheumatoid factor (RF) in blood were measured.

Results: Study group (mean age 44.9 years, mean age of vitiligo onset 28.5 years, mean duration of vitiligo 16.9 years) consisted of 44 males and 111 females. Vitiligo vulgaris was the most common clinical type (81.3%), followed by acrofacial, focal, segmental and universal vitiligo. Two-thirds of subjects reported a coexisting disease and 36.7% had one or more disease of autoimmune origin. The presence of autoantibodies was established in 49.6%. TPO-Ab was found in 36.9%, PCA in 14.2%, ANA and AAA both in 2.8% and positive RF in 7.8% cases. 17 subjects had APS 3, 35 had subclinical APS 3 and two subjects had APS 4.

Conclusions: Vitiligo vulgaris was the most frequent clinical type. Vitiligo was associated with other autoimmune diseases, the presence of autoantibodies in the blood was frequent (especially TPO-Ab) and many subjects had APS.

Keywords: Vitiligo, clinical types, coexisting disease, autoantibodies, autoimmune polyglandular syndrome.