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About the Dallas Vitiligo Registry

The Dallas Vitiligo Registry (DVR) is a national registry for vitiligo patients. Its goal is to enroll a large number (hundreds) of patients in order to better understand the causes of vitiligo, how it evolves over time, and how to treat vitiligo optimally. It is one of only five such registries in the world and will serve as an important resource to investigators at UT Southwestern and worldwide.

The DVR is unique in that it draws from a large, diverse population, representing virtually all ethnicities and races. Your participation will contribute to advancing the field of vitiligo research. Patients enrolled in the study will be first in line for vitiligo trials conducted at UT Southwestern. Enrollment of study patients is underway. If you have vitiligo, you can participate in this study. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the time of enrollment.

The principal investigator for the DVR is Amit G. Pandya, M.D., Professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern, an expert in the treatment of pigmentary disorders. He is the medical advisor for the Dallas-Ft. Worth Vitiligo Support Group and frequently lectures to patients and health care providers on the topic of vitiligo and other pigmentary disorders.

Research on Vitiligo

Vitiligo is caused by autoreactive, melanocyte-specific CD8+ T cells that migrate from the blood into the skin and destroy melanocytes, the pigment-making cells. In addition to autoreactive T-cells, recent evidence suggests that melanocytes and other non-immune populations in the skin possess intrinsic abnormalities that contribute to autoimmunity, making them optimal targets for autoimmune attack. This is one avenue of investigation that is being performed with data, blood and skin samples from patients enrolled in the DVR.

There have been many new studies linking various autoimmune factors with vitiligo. New areas of research are investigating the role of autoreactive CD-8 T-cells and serum IFN-gamma levels in affected patients. Correlating patient demographics and physical examination findings with these autoimmune findings may be an important step in determining the etiology of vitiligo and predicting disease course.  

Due to lack of a blood test to monitor the disease, it is exceedingly difficult to predict onset and disease activity in patients with vitiligo. There have been many studies that have attempted to identify characteristics of patients with vitiligo, but these studies have been limited by small sample sizes and short durations. Additionally, there are no large, robust patient registries in the United States. The DVR was started to collect a large database of patients from various racial and ethnic backgrounds which should lead to new discoveries in the diagnosis and management of vitiligo.

Numerous treatments such as topical corticosteroids, phototherapy, and immunomodulators have been used with mild to moderate success for vitiligo and each comes with its own set of adverse effects and cost.

One purpose of the DVR is to follow patients receiving various therapies to determine which work best and for which types of vitiligo. Patients will also be evaluated for disease associations such as thyroid disease, which occur in greater frequency in patients with vitiligo.

The creation of a unified database that measures and tracks these factors over a long period of time will provide greater insight into the disease process and advance the boundaries of current research in the field. Additionally, measuring response or progression of disease with different treatments over longer periods of time will help physicians to improve their treatment protocols for affected patients.

How can I Support Vitiligo Research at UTSW?

If you would like to help us in our mission to find better ways to manage vitiligo by providing a donation, please contact Caren McGratty at 214-648-5683. Thank you for your interest in our research efforts.