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J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2001 Jan-Feb;8(1 Suppl Proceedings):S52-4.

Autoimmune hypogonadism as part of an autoimmune polyglandular syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10024, USA.


The most compelling case for autoimmune mediated hypogonadism occurs when ovarian failure is part of an autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS). In patients with the rare, recessively inherited type 1 APS (APS-1), characterized by the triad of chronic mucocutaneous moniliasis, hypoparathyroidism, and Addison's disease, primary amenorrhea (elevated pituitary gonadotropins) or oligomenorrhea and infertility are constant features. Ovarian failure is associated with autoantibodies to steroid hormone secreting cells in the adrenal cortex, Leydig cells of the testes, granulosa/thecal cells of the Graffian follicles, corpus luteum, and the syncytiotrophoblast of the placenta. These autoantibodies react with 3 P450 enzymes involved with steroidogenesis, namely, 21-hydroxylase (adrenal specific), 17 alpha-hydroxylase, and the side chain cleavage enzyme. Recently the 14 exon, APS-1 (autoimmune regulator or AIRE) gene has been cloned (chr. 21p22.3), and multiple mutants discovered. Parents who are obligatory heterozygotes for a single mutant gene lack clinical features of APS-1. They also do not develop APS-1 autoantibodies. Thus, hypogonadal patients without features of APS-1 are unlikely to have AIRE gene mutations. In the more common APS-2/3, characterized by combinations of autoimmune thyroid disease, immune mediated type 1 diabetes, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, and Addison's disease (type 2, not type 3), ovarian disease may be seen. In primary hypogonadism outside of the context of an APS, these autoantibodies are rare.

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