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Autoimmunity. 1992;14(2):155-8.

HLA-DR/DQ gene variation in nongoitrous autoimmune thyroiditis at the serological and molecular level.

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  • 1Endocrine Department of the Medical Clinic, Klinikum Steglitz, Berlin, Germany.


The etiology of autoimmune diseases is multifactorial with genetic factors being an important prerequisite. There are two clinical manifestations of autoimmune thyroiditis: the goitrous form (Hashimoto's thyroiditis) and the atrophic variant, which is characterized by hypothyroidism (primary myxoedema). Different genetic markers were assumed to be predisposing factors for the distinct clinical presentation. In the present study, we determined HLA A,B,C,DR,DQ alloantigens serologically and HLA-DQ by gene analysis in patients with nongoitrous autoimmune thyroiditis and randomly chosen controls. To verify the exact classifications, thyroid volume (median 5.85 ml) was measured by ultrasonography. HLA-DR5 was found in 16 of 36 (44%) patients with nongoitrous autoimmune thyroiditis and in only 26 of 175 controls (15%) (Pc = 0.0018). There was a tendency towards a lower frequency of HLA-DR7 with 6% positivity in patients vs. 29% in controls (Pc = 0.052). Regarding HLA-DQ, DQ7 was found in 17 of 35 patients (48%) vs. 21 of 98 controls (21%) (Pc = 0.028) (relative risk 3.5). No other association was found with HLA-A,B,C and HLA-DR and -DQ. Our data indicate that the genetic susceptibility to autoimmune nongoitrous thyroiditis is closely associated to HLA-DR5 and DQ7 and not distinct from goitrous disease. We conclude that factors other than genetic ones explain the different immunological and clinical manifestation of chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.

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