JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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The natural history of adrenal function in autoimmune patients with adrenal autoantibodies.

Adrenal autoantibodies (AA) were found in 23 of 2571 (0.9%) patients with organ-specific autoimmune diseases, in one of 632 first-degree relatives of insulin-dependent diabetic patients, and in none of 375 normal controls. In AA-positive subjects the prevalence of human leucocyte antigens (HLA)-A1, -B8 and -DR3 was significantly higher with respect to the general population. Two groups were followed (15 subjects persistently positive for AA and 51 negative subjects) for a mean period of 3.2 years. Yearly tests were made for AA and adrenal function. Of the 15 subjects persistently positive for AA, six developed Addison's disease after a period varying from 6 months to 10 years. Of the 51 subjects initially negative, two became positive during follow-up, and one of these developed Addison's disease 15 months later. In contrast, all the remaining 49 persistently negative subjects maintained normal adrenal function tests. Overall, of the 17 positive subjects, seven (41%) developed Addison's disease, three (18%) showed various degrees of subclinical adrenocortical failure and the remaining seven maintained normal glandular function. In the positive patients the yearly incidence of detriment in adrenal function was 19%. Patients who developed Addison's disease showed significant association with HLA-B8 phenotype. The development from normal adrenocortical function to overt Addison's disease seemed to progress through four distinct stages of functional impairment: increased plasma renin activity with normal/low aldosterone (stage 1), low cortisol response after i.v. administration of ACTH (stage 2), increased ACTH (stage 3), and low basal cortisol (stage 4).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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