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PLoS One. 2015 Jul 20;10(7):e0133497. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133497. eCollection 2015.

Antibodies against Proinsulin and Homologous MAP Epitopes Are Detectable in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Sardinian Patients, an Additional Link of Association.

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Università degli Studi di Sassari, Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione di Microbiologia e Virologia, Sassari.
Department of Endocrinology, Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL) 1, Sassari, Italy.


Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) is the prevailing organ-specific autoimmune disease in Sardinia, often complicated with other autoimmune disorders, most commonly type 1 diabetes (T1D). While numerous studies describe levels of anty-thyroid antibodies (Abs) in T1D patients, few papers evaluate the status of anti-islet autoimmunity in subjects affected by HT. Previously, we portrayed Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) as an environmental factor strongly associated with both diseases. In this study, we analyzed plasma of Sardinian HT patients (n=177) and healthy controls (HCs; n=175) for the presence of Abs against proinsulin and MAP-derived homologous epitopes: MAP1,4αgbp157-173/PI64-80 were recognized by 5,08% and 18,64% of HT vs 0,57% and 7,43% of HCs (AUC=0,6 for both; p<0,0003 and 0,002, respectively), whereas the prevalence of Abs against MAP2404c70-85/PI46-61 peptides was higher but not significant in patients when compared to HCs. In women (n=152), Abs against MAP1,4αgbp157-173 were detected in 12,50% of HT vs 2,75% of HCs (AUC=0,63; p<0,0002), while positivity to its human homolog PI64-80 was observed in 16,42% of HT vs 6,42% of HCs (AUC=0,61; p<0,001). In men (n=25), a significant anti-PI46-61 Abs levels were detected in 4% of HT vs none of the HCs (AUC=0,7; p<0,003). Age-related analyses revealed the highest prevalence between 31-40 years old (45,83%) in the total study population and among males (33,33%); in contrast, women had a higher seroreactivity between 51-60 years (42,11%). A further follow-up and determination of anti-islet Abs levels is needed to evaluate the association of immune responses directed against the MAP/PI homologous peptides with progression to overt diabetes in HT subjects.

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