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Thyroid autoantibody profiles in ophthalmic dominant and thyroid dominant Graves’ disease differ and suggest ophthalmopathy is a multiantigenic disease

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Summary background 

Thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) occurs in 25–50% of patients with Graves’ disease (GD) and is occasionally seen in hypothyroid Hashimoto's disease or euthyroid individuals. The link between TAO and hyperthyroidism remains unclear. We hypothesized that qualitative or quantitative differences in thyroid antibodies might determine individual predisposition to these features. methods 

In a prospective study over 3 years, thyroid antibody levels were measured in all patients diagnosed at the Singapore National Eye Centre to have GD. These patients had no known history of thyroid disease, presented with eye complaints and diagnosis was made by an ophthalmologist. A total of 31 patients were identified. Antibody levels were compared against 71 consecutive patients referred to a thyroid clinic (TC) for thyrotoxic symptoms in whom the diagnosis of GD was confirmed by a thyroidologist. findings 

Thyroid autoantibody profiles of patients diagnosed at the ophthalmology centre (OC) and TC differed markedly. OC patients had significantly higher TSI (P = 0·003) but lower TPOAb (P = 0·008) and TgAb levels (P < 0·001). In contrast, TC patients had higher free T4 (P = 0·048) and higher TBII levels (P < 0·001). Antibody levels were correlated with four parameters of ophthalmopathy – chronic lid retraction, lid swelling, proptosis and extraocular myopathy (EOM). On univariate logistic regression analysis, TSI was a positive predictor and TPOAb and TgAb negative predictors of all four features. In the absence of TgAb, the odds ratios for individual TAO features ranged from 2·8 to 7·9, with corresponding values of 3·9–10·2 when TPOAb was absent. In stepwise logistic regression analysis, TSI was the strongest independent predictor of all aspects studied: lid fullness P = 0·001, proptosis P = 0·001, lid retraction P = 0·008, EOM P = 0·009. Among smokers, TPOAb were significantly lower (P = 0·044) but no association between smoking and the other antibodies was observed. interpretation 

The study demonstrates markedly different thyroid autoantibody profiles in newly diagnosed GD patients with ophthalmic dominant as opposed to thyroid dominant features. It suggests differing antibody patterns are associated with predisposition to hyperthyroidism and orbitopathy. In addition, an association between smoking and low TPOAb levels was noted.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd., 2: Oculoplastic Service, Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd.

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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