The Biology of Food and Vitiligo!

Mehak Talwar , 20 November 2020

As of the year 2020, there has been an enormous upsurge in the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. People were locked down at their places as never before and were suggested to add certain elements to their diet to enhance one’s immunity. Similarly, many food elements, if added in the diet can help in prevention or basically treatment of many diseases and vitiligo is no exception to it. Making certain changes in diet or the type of food one intakes the disease can be treated much more wisely and efficiently. As per various theories proposed by scientists worldwide certain food items pose a negative impact on the ongoing treatment of the disease. There is a notion that Vitamin C helps in skin whitening and helps improve skin pigmentation but in the case of Vitiligo this kind of food intake has not proved to be successful in some cases and has rather shown adverse effects. Thus, monitoring diet as per the health or disease conditions becomes of extreme importance. Although there is not enough evidence that eating certain food items can help in prevention or treatment of the disease, following are the certain food items that can be added to one's diet for disease treatment, management or prevention. These items are suggested as per literature analysis.

As per the ROS Hypothesis, excessive secretion of the reactive oxidative species and H2O2 leads to oxidation of methionine and thus leading to fading of skin color. Therefore, it is suggestive to add a lot of antioxidants to one's diet. It has been reported in "Experimental Dermatology" in 2013 that people newly diagnosed with vitiligo have lower levels of antioxidants. Antioxidant supplementation in vitiligo is postulated to boost the antioxidant defense mechanism and prevent melanocyte damage by reactive oxygen species. Food items such as carrot as it has beta carotene, beetroot and its juices, chickpea must be added in diet because of their high antioxidizing capacities.

As per the autoimmune pathogenesis IFN-γ, and the IFN-γ-induced chemokine CXCL10 leads to pathogenesis of the disease through the release of autoreactive CD8+ T cells to the epidermis. Thus, to support such kind of hypotheses we need treatment such as antibody neutralizing agents. Though the process is somewhat surgical but food and nutrition plays a major role in preventing the pathogenesis of the disease. There is a huge connection between nutrition and immunity. Thus, ingredients such as vitamin A, B6, E influence one’s immunity. Thus, food items such as bananas, oats, fish, chicken must be included in the diet.

As per Cytotoxicity Hypothesis, accumulation of compounds such as phenols and catechol inhibit the melanin pathway and increases the risk of disease pathogenesis in case of genetically susceptible vitiligo patients. Thus, patients with occupational/contact vitiligo must avoid the consumption of food items such with phenol groups or decrease it to some extent.

As per Decreased Melanocyte Hypothesis, dysfunctional signaling of melanocytes leads to cell apoptosis leading to disease pathogenesis. Thus, to avoid such situations and to maintain proper functioning of the cells one needs to include a lot of antioxidants in the diet such as green leafed vegetables, additional supplements, berries, folic acid. It has been proven that vitamin D increases the rate of melanogenesis thus food items such as mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese soy milk shall be included in the diet.

Collectively as per different theories following kind of diet can be followed to slow down vitiligo pathogenesis:

  • >MEAL I that can be followed in the morning include: Gluten free bread with egg yolks, beetroot juice, green tea, dry fruits and whole grain foods, leguminous vegetables, carrot.
  • >MEAL II that can be followed during the afternoon may include: Green leafy vegetables, whole grain chapattis, salads, wheat, whole grains, cereals.
  • >MEAL III that can be followed during the diner may include: Fish, meat, grains, wheat, shrimps, avocados, meat, yogurt.

Although vitiligo is not a deadly disease and is not conjunctive, people suffering with the disease have a lot of insecurities, low self-esteem, depression with them as it affects one’s appearance and makes them conscious. Thus, disease management becomes of extreme importance. There is no permanent cure of the disease but still efforts can be made to improve the situation. Newer computational technology such as Computational Gastronomy while blends food technology and data science together can help in better structure of diet one intakes. Disease management and nutrition goes hand to hand; thus, a lot of focus needs to be paid on the nutrition part for better disease management.

Two minutes insight into the Vitiligo prevalence in pan India!

Aishwarya Yadav, 20 November 2020

Vitiligo is a constant condition that causes pale, white patches to appear on the skin. The regions influenced have almost no melanin. Melanin is a color like substance that is delivered by specific skin cells called melanocytes. It gives your skin its tone and shields it from the sun's rays Vitiligo can influence any region of your skin, yet most usually happens on skin that is presented to the sun, for example, your face, neck and hands. It is a typical gained issue of skin depigmentation, differing from little macules with scalloping fringes to approach complete depigmentation of body. The problem influences almost 1%–2% of the total population regardless of race and identity with most noteworthy rate recorded in Indian subcontinent.

It is assessed that around 1 of every 100 individuals create vitiligo. It is evident that prevalence of Vitiligo in India is ~1-1.9% of general population. Even though vitiligo may show up whenever from birth to senescence, beginning is most generally seen in people matured 10-30 years. It generally begins to show up at around 20 years old. The time of beginning is probably not going to differ between the genders. People are similarly influenced, as are individuals of various nationalities. A female dominance has been accounted for vitiligo; however, it isn't factually huge, and the error has been ascribed to an increase in reporting of cosmetic concerns by female patients. Around 30% of vitiligo cases happen with a familial bunching of cases. The possibility of a patient’s sibling building up the sickness is 5.8% and for an identical twin is 21-23%. Furthermore, patients with vitiligo and their family members have an expanded danger of creating other immune system sicknesses such as Type-1 Diabetes, Anemia, autoimmune thyroiditis. Vitiligo is more frequently diagnosed in spring and summer (64.4%).

The prevalence of vitiligo is likely less than 1% but varies based on region. Gujarat, India is considered to have the highest prevalence in the world, at about 8.8%.

This was just a brief summary about the prevalence of Vitiligo in pan India. Time changes, gene changes, population changes and even the prevalence of the disease will change so, let’s join hands, create awareness and face the disease with more power, no matter how big or small the number is, how significant and non-significant the disease is.

Experimentalist, Clinicians, Researchers and Students all are invited to collaborate with us for any epidemiological studies of vitiligo in pan Indian regions.

Immunoinformatics Analysis of Vitiligo pathogenesis – An Idea!

Alakto Choudhury, 20 November 2020

Immunoinformatics, what is it? Well, Immunoinformatics is the computational study of how a disease is interacting with your immune system. This mostly involves the B-Cells, the T-Cells, allergens involved, etc. This is a very diverse subject of study.

Immunity of Vitiligo

Vitiligo can be considered as a multifactorial disease, with both genetic and environmental factors implicated in the initiation of the disease. Vitiligo can result from a combination of biochemical, environmental, and immunologic factors, in genetically predisposed patients. Therefore, only a multidisciplinary approach may unveil the pathogenic puzzle of the disease.(Source:

That multidisciplinary approach is why I chose to do an immunoinformatic study of the disease, though it is just a brief study, more can be explored on that.

So, what did I do?

Well I did two tests as I’ve mentioned a few sentences ago. One of them was a B-Cell Epitope prediction. The other one was an Allergy-informatics test.

What is a B-Cell Epitope prediction?

An epitope is a part of an antigen molecule to which an antibody attaches itself. A paratope is a part of an antibody which attaches to the epitope. So basically, if the molecule containing the epitope is recognized by the immunity system, it would be attached with an antibody via it’s paratope. B-Cell epitope prediction is simply predicting which parts of the proteins associated with the disease can be attached by B-Cell paratopes.

So, what did I exactly do here?

  • First, I gathered the fasta sequence of every vitiligo proteins I could find from the website. Then I put them together in a text file, it was around 50 proteins.
  • Then, I opened up BepiPred-2.0, which is a tool used to find the epitopes in protein molecules. I pasted all 50 molecules in the input section and ran the tool.

Results :

Protein Name No. of Epitopes
sp_P26373_RL13_HUMAN 172
sp_P38646_GRP75_HUMAN 280
sp_P68431_H31_HUMAN 60
sp_Q13077_TRAF1_HUMAN 294
sp_P62136_PP1A_HUMAN 133
sp_P21554_CNR1_HUMAN 231
sp_P05161_ISG15_HUMAN 82
sp_Q15051_IQCB1_HUMAN 324
sp_P11142_HSP7C_HUMAN 245
sp_P05141_ADT2_HUMAN 47
sp_P37231_PPARG_HUMAN 346
sp_P10914_IRF1_HUMAN 237
sp_Q02556_IRF8_HUMAN 240
sp_P16104_H2AX_HUMAN 83
sp_P84022_SMAD3_HUMAN 232
sp_Q92731_ESR2_HUMAN 361
sp_Q92905_CSN5_HUMAN 189
sp_Q08116_RGS1_HUMAN 130
sp_P32455_GBP1_HUMAN 399
sp_P34810_CD68_HUMAN 227
sp_P12956_XRCC6_HUMAN 342
sp_P12544_GRAA_HUMAN 85
sp_P01308_INS_HUMAN 65
sp_P01106_MYC_HUMAN 401
sp_P38398_BRCA1_HUMAN 1652
sp_P49863_GRAK_HUMAN 101
sp_Q00978_IRF9_HUMAN 224
sp_O14879_IFIT3_HUMAN 253
sp_P20800_EDN2_HUMAN 129
sp_P13569_CFTR_HUMAN 533
sp_Q13485_SMAD4_HUMAN 353
sp_Q15717_ELAV1_HUMAN 160
sp_P04792_HSPB1_HUMAN 98
sp_O95817_BAG3_HUMAN 563
sp_P61956_SUMO2_HUMAN 38
sp_P13010_XRCC5_HUMAN 415
sp_Q07108_CD69_HUMAN 104
sp_Q92633_LPAR1_HUMAN 125
sp_P42345_MTOR_HUMAN 1018
sp_P27348_1433T_HUMAN 81
sp_Q15796_SMAD2_HUMAN 294
sp_P04406_G3P_HUMAN 61
sp_P29590_PML_HUMAN 631
sp_P19878_NCF2_HUMAN 369
sp_P00519_ABL1_HUMAN 815
sp_Q96ST3_SIN3A_HUMAN 864
sp_Q13616_CUL1_HUMAN 331
sp_P12004_PCNA_HUMAN 39
sp_Q5S007_LRRK2_HUMAN 1262
sp_P78527_PRKDC_HUMAN 1790

What is allergy-informatics study?

Allergy informatics study is the study of the interactions between proteins from a disease and known allergens.

What did I do?

I had the list of proteins along with their fasta. So, I went ahead and opened up Allermatch. Allermatch is a tool that finds a list of allergens that interact with the proteins you provide to it.

The top 15 results are listed below:

Protein Length opt Bits E (2026)
A0A1B2YLJ2_TYRPU UniProt Tyr p 28 UniProt A0A1B2YL 659 3579 821.9 0
A0A088SAS1_DERFA UniProt Der f 28 UniProt A0A088SA 654 3312 761 3.5E-219
HSP70_DAVTA UniProt Cla h HSP70 UniProt P40918 htt 643 3176 730 7.4E-210
Q9FSY7_CORAV UniProt Cor a 10 UniProt Q9FSY7 668 2692 619.7 1.3E-176
Q1HR69_AEDAE UniProt Aed a 8 UniProt Q1HR69 655 2637 607.1 7.3E-173
L7V065_DERFA UniProt Der f 28 UniProt L7V065 503 2601 598.9 2.2E-170
HSP70_PENCI UniProt Pen c 19.0101 UniProt Q92260 h 332 2492 574.2 4.7E-163
A0A2R3WIG9_PERAM UniProt Per a 13 UniProt A0A2R3W 337 1721 398.7 2.1E-110
C7C4X1_WHEAT UniProt Tri a 34 UniProt C7C4X1 340 1590 368.8 2.1E-101
A0A1B1FG09_MANIN UniProt No allergen name UniProt 773 1505 349.4 1.4E-95
M5E549_MALS4 UniProt Mala s 10 UniProt M5E549 773 930 218 1.2E-55
Q8TGH3_MALSM UniProt Mala s 10 UniProt Q8TGH3 152 924 216.6 3.1E-55
HSP70_ALTAL UniProt Alt a 3 UniProt P78983 260 584 140.9 3.9E-33
ESTA_CANLF UniProt Can f 5 UniProt P09582 257 540 129.7 1.5E-29
VSP3_PROMU UniProt No allergen name UniProt Q91509 258 516 124.2 6.6E-28

What I could conclude?

I could draw a rough metaphorical sketch of what the results mean.

We have a total of 17508 epitopes for the proteins translated from the vitiligo genes. That means there’s quite the possibility of immune response against the disease. Also, there is around 133 allergens that can trigger immune response from the body of a vitiligo people. Even though the disease is not deadly or harmful, the chances of having autoimmune responses are quite high.

Well, this was just a short study, I tried. More can be explored in the immunoinformatics study of vitiligo pathogenesis.