Objective: Myeloperoxidase antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (MPO-ANCA)-positive vasculitis has been reported in patients with Graves' disease who were treated with propylthiouracil (PTU). The appearance of MPO-ANCA in these cases was suspected of being related to PTU because the titres of MPO-ANCA decreased when PTU was stopped. Nevertheless, there have been no studies on the temporal relationship between the appearance of MPO-ANCA and vasculitis during PTU therapy, or on the incidence of MPO-ANCA in untreated Graves' disease patients. Therefore, we sought to address these parameters in patients with Graves' disease.
Patients: We investigated 102 untreated patients with hyperthyroidism due to Graves' disease for the presence of MPO-ANCA, and for the development vasculitis after starting PTU therapy. Twenty-nine of them were later excluded because of adverse effects of PTU or because the observation period was less than 3 months. The remaining 73 patients (55 women and 18 men), all of whom were examined for more than 3 months, were adopted as the subjects of the investigation. The median observation period was 23.6 months (range: 3-37 months).
Measurements: MPO-ANCA was measured at intervals of 2-6 months.
Results: Before treatment, the MPO-ANCA titres of all 102 untreated Graves' disease patients were within the reference range (below 10 U/ml). Three (4.1%) of the 73 patients were positive for MPO-ANCA at 13, 16 and 17 months, respectively, after the start of PTU therapy. In two of them, the MPO-ANCA titres transiently increased to 12.8 and 15.0 U/ml, respectively, despite continued PTU therapy, but no vasculitic disorders developed. In the third patient, the MPO-ANCA titre increased to 204 U/ml and she developed a higher fever, oral ulcers and polyarthralgia, but the symptoms resolved 2 weeks after stopping PTU therapy, and the MPO-ANCA titre decreased to 20.7 U/ml by 4 months after discontinuing PTU.
Conclusions: PTU therapy may be related to the appearance of MPO-ANCA, but MPO-ANCA does not appear to be closely related to vasculitis.