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The association between Alopecia areata and thyroid autoimmunity in Chinese adult patients: a controlled study

Background/Objectives: Alopecia areata (AA) is a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease in association with other autoimmune diseases. This study aimed to investigate clinical significance of thyroid dysfunction and thyroid autoantibodies in Chinese adult patients with AA.

Methods: A questionnaire was used to collect data on demographic information, medical history, and family history of AA. Venous blood samples were obtained from 158 AA patients and 158 age- and gender-matched normal controls. Chemiluminescence was applied to measure serum levels of Thyroglobulin Antibody (TgAb), Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody (TPOAb), Free Triiodothyronine (FT3), Free Tetraiodothyronine (FT4) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Results: The positive frequency of TPOAb was significantly higher in AA patients than in control. Meanwhile, the positive frequency of TPOAb in the female patients with AA was 29.73%, significantly higher than that in the female controls. 22 of 158 AA patients (13.92%) were complicated with autoimmune thyroid diseases. Although we found no significant association between the frequency of thyroid autoantibodies and severity and duration of disease or family history of AA patients, positive frequencies of TgAb and TPOAb in the patients with more than one attack of AA were significantly higher than in the patients with only one attack of AA. There were no significant increases in FT3 and FT4 or TSH in AA patients compared to controls.

Conclusions: The incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease and positive frequency of TPOAb increase in Chinese AA patients. It is important to evaluate thyroid function and screen for thyroid autoantibodies in AA patients, especially in women of fertile age.

Author(s): Hongfeng Wang, Huihui Gan, Lihong Mei, Gao Yang, Fang Fang