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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;93(3):729-34. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

Serological evidence of thyroid autoimmunity among schoolchildren in two different socioeconomic environments.

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1
Department of Virology, University of Tampere, Medical School, Biokatu 10, FI-33520 Tampere, and Department of Clinical Microbiology, Tampere Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Finland.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

The mechanisms leading to thyroid autoimmunity are largely unknown.

OBJECTIVE:

Our objective was to assess the role of environment in the development of thyroid autoimmunity.

DESIGN:

Prevalence of thyroid autoantibodies in two neighboring populations living in completely different socioeconomic circumstances (Russian Karelia and Finland) was studied.

SETTING:

We studied two population-based cohorts partly sharing the same ancestry.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 532 schoolchildren from Russian Karelia and 532 schoolchildren in Finland matched for age, gender, and season of the blood sampling were included.

INTERVENTIONS:

There were no interventions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The prevalence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb), thyroglobulin antibodies (TGAb) and HLA-DQ alleles was measured.

RESULTS:

The prevalence of TPOAb was significantly lower in Russian Karelian than in Finnish children (0.4 vs. 2.6%, P=0.006). A similar difference was observed for TGAb (0.6 vs. 3.4%, P=0.002). Finnish girls tested positive for both TPOAb (4.3 vs. 0.4%, P=0.01) and TGAb (5.3 vs. 0.9%, P=0.01) more frequently than Finnish boys. Seven of the 23 tested subjects with signs of thyroid autoimmunity (30%) had increased serum TSH concentrations as a sign of subclinical hypothyroidism. The frequency of HLA genotypes did not differ between the two countries or between autoantibody-positive and -negative subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

The prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity is lower in Russian Karelia than in Finland. This difference was not related to ethnic background or HLA-DQ alleles. The results support the idea that the Russian Karelian environment, which is characterized by inferior prosperity and standard of hygiene, may provide protection against thyroid autoimmunity.

Comment in

PMID:
18073310
DOI:
10.1210/jc.2007-1644
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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