OBJECTIVE: Anti-thyroglobulin, anti-thyroid-peroxidase and anti-TSH receptor antibodies have been observed with high frequency in autoimmune thyroid diseases. Thyroid hormone auto-antibodies (THAA): anti-thyroxine (T4) and anti-triiodothyronine (T3), conversely, have been reported rarely. In both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, patients suffer from muscle weakness and function disorders. The aim of our study was the evaluation of the occurrence rate of autoantibodies targeting muscle proteins in a group of 24 patients with circulating anti-T3 and/or anti-T4 autoantibodies. The control group consisted of 41 healthy blood donors.
METHODS: In polyethylene tubes coated with muscle antigens: actin, myosin, myoglobin, troponin and tropomyosin solid-phase radioimmunoassay was performed to detect autoantibodies. A reaction with 125I-labelled staphylococcus protein A was used for the detection of antibodies bound to the antigens on the tubes.
RESULTS: We found a high occurrence of antibodies to muscle proteins in patients with THAA. Anti-myoglobin autoantibodies were most frequent (54.2% of subjects), the binding index values was very high and exceeded normal values two to four fold. Anti-myosin autoantibodies were detected in 50% of subjects; anti-troponin autoantibodies in 33.3%, and anti-tropomyosin autoantibody in 3 patients (12.5%). Differences between the patients and the controls were statistically significant. The antibody binding index to actin was low and statistically insignificant.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that muscle protein antibodies, especially to myoglobin, myosin and troponin, are very frequently present in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease and circulating anti-T3 and anti-T4 autoantibodies, as well as in most cases of chronic thyroiditis with clinical symptoms of hypothyroidisms.