Circulating organ-specific autoantibodies are serological markers of destruction or impairment of the relevant endocrine tissue cells and may be associated with abnormal hormone levels with or without clinical evidence of overt disease. We sought organ-specific cardiac antibodies in patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy because of increasing evidence that the heart has endocrine characteristics (secretion of atrial natriuretic peptide [ANP] and other peptide hormones). Serum samples from 166 patients with polyendocrinopathy, 80 with autoimmunity confined to one gland, and 200 healthy blood donors were tested for these antibodies by means of immunofluorescence on human heart. Skeletal muscle was used to identify cross-reacting antibodies. Organ-specific cardiac antibodies were detected in significantly more of the patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy (28 [17%]) than of those with autoimmunity confined to one gland (1 [1%]) or of normal subjects (7 [3·5%]; p=0·0001). Among the patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy, the prevalence of systemic hypertension was higher in those with cardiac autoantibodies than in those without (5/28 [18%] vs 2/80 [3%]; p=0·01); the same was true for a family history of hypertension (11 [42%] vs 5 [7%]; p=0·0001). There were no significant differences in mean basal or stimulated ANP concentrations between patients with or without antibodies or between patients and controls. 5 of the 22 antibody-positive patients had ANP concentrations outside the normal range, but these disturbances were not associated with systemic hypertension or a family history of the disorder. Patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy can have organ-specific cardiac antibodies, which may represent novel serological markers for an autoimmune form of systemic hypertension in the absence of overt cardiac disease.
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