Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy–candidiasis–ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) has variable clinical course. Overall mortality is increased but reasons for this remain largely unknown. Our objective was to assess the causes of death and factors contributing to increased mortality.
A follow-up study of the Finnish APECED cohort in 1970–2019.
In 33 deceased patients with APECED, causes of death and clinical course preceding the death were analyzed using national registry data, death certificates, autopsy reports, and patient records.
Most common causes leading to death were infections (24%), oral and esophageal malignancies (15%; median age at death 36.7 years; median survival 1.5 years), and diseases of the circulatory system (18%). Adrenal crisis was an independent cause of death in two patients. In addition, in four patients, the adrenal crisis was a complicating factor during a fatal infection. Other APECED manifestations leading to death were hypoparathyroidism, diabetes, and hepatitis. Other causes of death included accidents (12%), alcohol-related causes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Challenges in overall, and especially in the endocrine, care contributed to deaths related to carcinomas and adrenal crisis. Age at death and year of death correlated (r = 0.345, P = 0.045), suggesting improved longevity.
Infections, malignancies, and diseases of the circulatory system are the most common primary causes of death in patients with APECED. Adrenal crisis is an independent cause of death but more often a contributing factor in fatal infections. Despite the high overall mortality and the demanding care, our results suggest improved patient survival in recent years.