, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 412-419
Date: 23 Aug 2011

Growth hormone and proopiomelanocortin are targeted by autoantibodies in a patient with biopsy-proven IgG4-related hypophysitis

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Hypophysitis is a chronic inflammation of the pituitary gland often caused by autoimmunity. Among the autoimmune diseases it is one of the few where the autoantigens remain to be identified. The goal of the paper was to characterize the antigenic profile in a previously reported patient with IgG4-related hypophysitis. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting were performed to detect antibodies to human pituitary proteins. The proteins recognized by western blotting were then submitted to mass spectrometry for sequencing. The patient’s autoantibodies recognized two unique bands around 40 and 30 kDa on immunoblotting. Sequencing revealed one peptide from proopiomelanocortin in the 40 kDa band and four peptides from growth hormone in the 30 kDa band. This work represents the first antigenic profile in IgG4-related hypophysitis, and the first recognition of proopiomelanocortin as a possible pituitary autoantigen. In addition, the work supports previous suggestions of growth hormone as a pituitary autoantigen. Further studies are needed to prove the pathogenicity and diagnostic utility of these two pituitary proteins.