n South African Medical Journal - Biology and genetics of oculocutaneous albinism and vitiligo - common pigmentation disorders in southern Africa : Festschrift : Professor Trefor Jenkins - molecular genetics

Volume 103, Issue 12
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Pigmentation disorders span the genetic spectrum from single-gene autosomal recessive disorders such as oculocutaneous albinism (OCA), the autosomal dominant disorder piebaldism to X-linked ocular albinism and multifactorial vitiligo. OCA connotes a group of disorders that result in hypopigmented skin due to decreased melanin production in melanocytes and loss of visual acuity. There are four non-syndromic forms, OCA1-4, which are classified based on the gene that is mutated ( and , respectively). Despite the fact that multiple genes account for the various forms of OCA, the phenotypes of all four forms result from disruption in the maturation and trafficking of the enzyme tyrosinase. OCA2 is the most prevalent autosomal recessive disorder among southern African blacks, affecting 1/3 900 individuals; while OCA3, although rare, is most prevalent in southern Africa. Another common pigmentation disorder in southern Africa is vitiligo, which affects 1 - 2% of people worldwide. Vitiligo is a complex, acquired disorder in which melanocytes are destroyed due to an autoimmune response. The aetiology underlying this disorder is poorly understood, although recent genetic association studies have begun to shed light on the contributing factors. Pigmentation disorders have significant psychosocial implications and co-morbidities, yet therapies are still lacking. Recent progress in our understanding of the pathobiology of both albinism and vitiligo may herald novel treatment strategies for these disorders.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error