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OBJECTIVE: Propylthiouracil treatment of Graves' disease has been postulated to provoke antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis. We aimed to investigate whether carbimazole therapy was also associated with increased risk of ANCA. DESIGN: The occurrence of ANCA and the relationship to thionamide treatment was investigated in a cross-sectional study in a consecutive series of 407 patients' with Graves' disease, 200 with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and 649 normal euthyroid subjects. MEASUREMENTS: ANCA was measured by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for proteinase 3 and myeloperoxidase-ANCA. RESULTS: The prevalence of ANCA, as measured by IIF, was increased in the Graves' disease cohort (19.9%) compared with euthyroid controls (4.6%; P < 0.001). The prevalence of MPO-ANCA (measured by ELISA) was also increased in Graves' disease (P = 0.019). ANCA prevalence was more strongly associated with propylthiouracil treatment than carbimazole (P = 0.0265), although risk of ANCA was also higher in Graves' patients treated with carbimazole than controls (RR 2.2, P < 0.0001). ANCA positivity was not increased in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. CONCLUSION: This study revealed a high prevalence of ANCA in treated patients with Graves' disease but not in those with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Furthermore, within the Graves' disease population, ANCA development was associated with propylthiouracil usage to a greater extent than carbimazole. These findings suggest that the altered immune environment associated with autoimmune thyroid disease is not sufficient to develop ANCA but treatment with thionamides is important in promoting ANCA development.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)

Publication Date





671 - 675


Adult, Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic, Antithyroid Agents, Carbimazole, Case-Control Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Female, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect, Graves Disease, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Propylthiouracil