Pubertal development and premature ovarian insufficiency in patients with APECED

Eur J Endocrinol. 2020 Nov;183(5):513-520. doi: 10.1530/EJE-20-0516.


Objective: To determine the natural course of pubertal development, growth during puberty, and development of POI in females with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED), also called autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I.

Design: Longitudinal follow-up study.

Methods: A national cohort of females with APECED aged ≥12 years were followed during 1965-2018. Attainment of adult height was defined when patients' height increased less than 1 cm per year. Diagnosis of POI was based on delayed puberty or POI symptoms with amenorrhea, and/or FSH ≥40 IU/L.

Results: Altogether 40 women with APECED were followed up to the average age of 37.3 (range: 14.6-61.9) years; 16 females (40%) were ≥ 40 years. Pubertal development started spontaneously in 34 patients and 29 had spontaneous menarche. POI developed in 28 patients (70%) at the median age of 16.0 years (range: 11.3-36.5), and in 20 of them (71%) before attaining adult height. In 11 cases puberty was induced or completed by hormonal therapy. Patients with POI were significantly shorter at menarche, but adult heights did not differ from non-POI females. Patients with POI had more often primary adrenocortical insufficiency (93% vs 58%, P = 0.017) and ovarian antibodies (81% vs 30%, P=0.003) compared to those with normal ovarian function (n = 12).

Conclusions: POI developed in the majority of patients with APECED, often before or shortly after menarche. Timely commencement of hormonal replacement therapy is important to ensure optimal pubertal development and growth. The possibility of fertility preservation before development of POI in APECED patients should be further studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menarche / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovary / growth & development
  • Ovary / immunology
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / drug therapy
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / physiopathology*
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / immunology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Puberty / immunology*
  • Young Adult