Anti-tubulin antibodies in autoimmune thyroid disorders

Clin Exp Immunol. 1983 May;52(2):325-32.


The presence of circulating antibodies directed against a cytoskeletal element, microtubules, in patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders, has been studied using pure brain tubulin as antigen. Immune complexes were immunoprecipitated using a goat anti-human immunoglobulin antibody. Twenty sera among 48 (41%) from patients with Graves' disease and nine sera among 16 (56%) from patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis had increased levels of anti-tubulin antibodies as compared to that of 26 sera from control subjects. Only one serum among 11 from patients with toxic adenoma was positive. Very similar results were obtained using protein A adsorbent to collect immune complexes. Specificity of the tubulin binding activity was ascertained by dilution of the sera and displacement of tracer tubulin by unlabelled pure tubulin from rat or human brain. Anti-tubulin antibody titres were variable; one serum was positive at dilution higher than 1:15,000, a titre similar to those obtained in animals experimentally immunized against tubulin. Binding of labelled and unlabelled tubulin to immunoglobulins from positive sera was strictly competitive. The apparent affinity constant for the binding of tubulin to human anti-tubulin autoantibodies determined on four sera was 0.2-0.6 X 10(9)/M. There was no significant association between anti-tubulin antibodies and anti-microsomal antibodies or anti-thyroglobulin antibodies or thyroid stimulating antibodies. In contrast, only five to six per cent of sera from patients with other autoimmune diseases: lupus erythematosis or pernicious anaemia, had increased levels of anti-tubulin antibodies. In conclusion, tubulin represents a new autoantigen which is expressed rather specifically in autoimmune thyroid disorders and probably independently from the classical thyroid antigens.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / analysis
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsomes / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Rats
  • Thyroid Diseases / immunology*
  • Thyroid Gland / immunology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Tubulin / immunology*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Autoantibodies
  • Tubulin