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Clinical Research

Antibody that blocks stimulation of cortisol secretion by adrenocorticotrophic hormone in Addison's disease

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 28 May 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1489
  1. Pat Kendall-Taylor,
  2. Ann Lambert,
  3. Robert Mitchell,
  4. William R Robertson


    To investigate whether Addison's disease may in some cases be due to the blocking of adrenocorticotrophic hormone's action at the adrenal cortex by antibodies IgG isolated from a woman with Addison's disease associated with the autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type I was studied. Its effects on guinea pig adrenal cells in vitro were investigated and compared with those of IgG from three normal subjects and IgG obtained commercially. IgG from the patient inhibited the stimulation of cortisol secretion by adrenocorticotrophic hormone by 77 (SD 2)% and 57 (12)% at concentrations of 0·5 and 0·05 g/l, respectively; IgG prepared five months after she had started treatment with replacement steroids inhibited cortisol secretion by 74 (1)% (0·5 g/l) and 51 (15)% (0·05 g/l). The other IgGs had no inhibitory effects. The IgG from the patient and that obtained commercially did not inhibit the stimulation of cortisol secretion by dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate or precursors of cortisol. None of the IgGs bound to adrenocorticotrophic hormone.

    These results suggest that the IgG from the patient acted against the receptor for adrenocorticotrophic hormone, and its presence may explain the patient's raised concentrations of adrenocorticotrophic hormone, failure to respond to exogenous adrenocorticotrophic hormone, and normal basal cortisol concentrations. Addison's disease may thus in some instances be a receptor antibody disease.

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