Monozygotic twin pairs discordant for Hashimoto's thyroiditis share a high proportion of thyroid peroxidase autoantibodies to the immunodominant region A. Further evidence for genetic transmission of epitopic "fingerprints"

Autoimmunity. 2011 May;44(3):188-94. doi: 10.3109/08916934.2010.518575. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) predominantly react with two immunodominant regions (IDR-A, IDR-B). Theoretically, as shown for the level of TPOAbs, the autoantibody epitopic recognition of the IDRs could be under genetic control. To examine this, we compared the distribution of TPOAb epitopic fingerprints between healthy monozygotic (MZ) co-twins and siblings to patients with clinically overt HT with a control group of euthyroid subjects, matched for sex and age, but without autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) among their first-degree relatives. Two ELISAs based on competition with rabbit antisera were used to determine the IDR specificities in 23 patients with HT, 6 MZ co-twins, 8 siblings to patients with HT, and 11 healthy euthyroid subjects without predisposition to AITD. The fraction of TPOAbs recognizing IDR-A was 19, 18, and 9% in HT patients, MZ-co-twins, and siblings, respectively, which was higher than the 0% found in the group of healthy subjects without predisposition to AITD (p = 0.007 vs. HT; p = 0.1078 vs. MZ co-twin and p = 0.069 vs. siblings). Moreover, the IDR-A fraction differed between healthy MZ-co-twins and ordinary siblings (18% vs. 9%, p = 0.0127). In conclusion, our data indicate that the propensity to produce autoantibodies directed against the IDR-A epitope of TPO is genetically determined. This finding may have implications with respect to inheritance of autoantibody specificities in other autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Female
  • Hashimoto Disease / blood
  • Hashimoto Disease / genetics*
  • Hashimoto Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes* / genetics
  • Immunodominant Epitopes* / immunology
  • Iodide Peroxidase / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Twins, Monozygotic / blood
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics*
  • Twins, Monozygotic / immunology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Iodide Peroxidase