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J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Jul;130(7):1860-5. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.35. Epub 2010 Feb 25.

Lack of a role for cross-reacting anti-thyroid antibodies in chronic idiopathic urticaria.

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  • 1Asthma and Allergic Disease Center, Carter Center for Immunology Research, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


The etiology of chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) is attributed to autoantibodies directed against the alpha-chain of the high-affinity IgE receptor (FcepsilonRIalpha) or IgE on mast cells in 30-60% of patients. Approximately 30% of CIU patients have Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT). We investigated the pathophysiologic relationship of anti-thyroid and anti-FcepsilonRIalpha antibodies. Nine individuals with both CIU and HT underwent autologous serum skin testing (ASST) and sera were assayed for thyroid autoantibodies, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and anti-FcepsilonRIalpha antibodies. Serum samples were studied for their ability to activate a human mast cell line (LUVA) as determined by cysteinyl leukotriene (CysLT) production. Experiments were performed to determine whether epitope cross-reactivity could explain the high incidence of HT found in CIU patients. A significant proportion of CIU patients had a positive ASST (nine of six) and anti-FcepsilonRIalpha antibodies (six of nine). Incubation of patient sera with FcepsilonRIalpha, but not thyroglobulin or thyroid peroxidase, resulted in the decreased ability to detect anti-FcepsilonRIalpha antibodies. Incubation with thyroid antigens did not inhibit CysLT production by mast cells. Epitopic cross-reactivity does not explain the increased prevalence of HT found in CIU patients. The frequent concurrence of HT and CIU likely reflects a genetic tendency toward autoimmune diseases.

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