Context: Pituitary antibodies have been measured mainly to identify patients whose disease is caused or sustained by pituitary-specific autoimmunity. Although reported in over 100 publications, they have yielded variable results and are thus considered of limited clinical utility. Objectives: Our objectives were to analyze all publications reporting pituitary antibodies by immunofluorescence for detecting the major sources of variability, to experimentally test these sources and devise an optimized immunofluorescence protocol, and to assess prevalence and significance of pituitary antibodies in patients with pituitary diseases. Study Design and Outcome Measures: We first evaluated the effect of pituitary gland species, section fixation, autofluorescence quenching, blockade of unwanted antibody binding, and use of purified IgG on the performance of this antibody assay. We then measured crosssectionally the prevalence of pituitary antibodies in 390 pituitary cases and 60 healthy controls, expressing results as present or absent and according to the (granular, diffuse, perinuclear, or mixed) staining pattern. Results: Human pituitary was the best substrate to detect pituitary antibodies and yielded an optimal signal-to-noise ratio when treated with Sudan black B to reduce autofluorescence. Pituitary antibodies were more common in cases (95 of 390, 24%) than controls (3 of 60, 5%, P .001) but did not discriminate among pituitary diseases when reported dichotomously. However, when expressed according to their cytosolic staining, a granular pattern was highly predictive of pituitary autoimmunity (P < .0001). Conclusion: We report a comprehensive study of pituitary antibodies by immunofluorescence and provide a method and an interpretation scheme that should be useful for identifying and monitoring patients with pituitary autoimmunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical