Context: Antipituitary antibodies (APA) are frequently present in patients with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome (APS). Design: The aim was to evaluate the predictive value of APA for the occurrence of hypopituitarism. A total of 149 APA-positive and 50 APA-negative patients with APS and normal pituitary function were longitudinally studied for 5 yr. Methods: APA, by indirect immunofluorescence, and anterior pituitary function were assessed yearly in all patients. The risk for developing autoimmune pituitary dysfunction was calculated using survival and multivariate analysis. Results: Hypopituitarism occurred in 28 of 149 (18.8%) APA-positive patients but in none of the 50 APA-negative patients. The immunostaining pattern in APA-positive patients involved either isolated pituitary cells [type 1 pattern; n = 99 (66.4%)] or all pituitary cells [type 2 pattern; n = 50 (33.6%)]. All patients developing pituitary dysfunction throughout the study span had a type 1 pattern. Kaplan-Meier curves for cumulative survival showed a significantly higher rate for developing hypopituitarism in relation to positive APA tests (P <0.005), pattern of immunostaining (P <0.0001), and APA titers (P <0.000001). Cox regression analysis in APA-positive patients with a type 1 pattern demonstrated a significantly (P <0.0001) higher risk for the onset of hypopituitarism in relation to increasing titers of APA. Conclusions: APA measurement by immunofluorescence may help to predict the occurrence of hypopituitarism but only when considering the immunostaining pattern and their titers. Combined evaluation of these parameters allows identifying patients at higher risk for pituitary autoimmune dysfunction, thus requiring a strict pituitary surveillance to disclose a preclinical phase of hypopituitarism and possibly interrupt therapeutically the progression to clinically overt disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism