Autoantibodies directed against human CD38 (an enzyme catalysing the interconversion of NAD+ and cyclic ADP-ribose) have been demonstrated recently in patients with type 2 diabetes. We tested 220 consecutive Caucasian patients with autoimmune chronic thyroiditis, 104 patients with Graves' disease, 220 subjects from the general population (control I) and 78 healthy control subjects not affected by thyroid autoimmune disorders (control II) for the presence of anti-CD38 autoimmunity. Using Western blot analysis and optical densitometry, a specific band corresponding to human recombinant CD38 was identified in the serum of several subjects. By defining anti-CD38 positivity as a standardized optical reading >3 s.d. higher than the mean value of control I, 10.4% of patients with thyroiditis and 7.7% of Graves' patients were anti-CD38 positive (P = 0.0009 versus 1.8% of control I). Similarly, 13.1% of patients with thyroiditis and 10.5% of Graves' patients had a standardized optical reading >3 s.d. higher than the mean value of the subjects not affected by thyroid autoimmune disorders (P = 0.002 versus 1.2% of control II). Anti-CD38 autoimmunity did not differ between euthyroid, hyperthyroid or hypothyroid patients or between patients with or without thyroid hypoechogenicity. Anti-CD38 autoantibodies were associated with higher levels of circulating antithyroid-peroxidase antibodies (P = 0.03) and they were more frequent in Graves' patients with ophthalmopathy (P < 0.05). Anti-CD38 autoantibodies are a new autoimmune marker in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and Graves' disease. The specific role of CD38 and its autoantibodies in the modulation of thyroid cell function or growth remains to be investigated.
- Anti-CD38 autoantibody
- Antithyroid-peroxidase autoantibody
- Chronic thyroiditis Graves' disease
- Graves' ophthalmopathy