The treatment for autoimmune Addison’s disease (AAD) has remained virtually unchanged in the last 60 years. Most patients have symptoms that are relatively well controlled with exogenous steroid replacement, but there may be persistent symptoms, recurrent adrenal crisis and poor quality of life, despite good compliance with optimal current treatments. Treatment with conventional exogenous steroid therapy is also associated with premature mortality, increased cardiovascular risk and complications related to excessive steroid replacement. Hence, novel therapeutic approaches have emerged in the last decade attempting to improve the long-term outcome and quality of life of patients with AAD. This review discusses the recent developments in treatment innovations for AAD, including the novel exogenous steroid formulations with the intention of mimicking the physiological biorhythm of cortisol secretion. Our group has also carried out a few studies attempting to restore endogenous glucocorticoid production via immunomodulatory and regenerative medicine approaches. The recent advances in the understanding of adrenocortical stem cell biology, and adrenal plasticity will also be discussed to help comprehend the science behind the therapeutic approaches adopted.
Earn H Gan and Simon H Pearce
Salman Razvi, Bijay Vaidya, Petros Perros and Simon H S Pearce
Block-replace and titration antithyroid drug regimens both give similar rates of medium- to long-term remission of hyperthyroid Graves’ disease. Recent meta-analysis, however, has suggested that titration regimens may be preferable owing to a higher rate of adverse events seen in the block-replace arms of published comparative studies. This article critically re-evaluates the evidence upon which these meta-analyses were based. We suggest that there is little objective evidence that is pertinent to current clinical practice to separate block-replace from titration antithyroid drug regimens and that both remain satisfactory approaches to the medical management of hyperthyroid Graves’ disease.
Simon H. S. Pearce, Nicholas B. Argent and Peter H. Baylis
We report the case of a young man who became adipsic following a subarachnoid hemorrhage and subsequently had two episodes of life-threatening hypernatremia. Investigations demonstrated that he had defective osmoregulated thirst and AVP release, but normal AVP responses to hypotension and nausea. There is also evidence that he had intact baroregulated thirst. We discuss the results of our investigations in the context of current models of hypothalamic-neurohypophysial function.
Earn H Gan, Katie MacArthur, Anna L Mitchell and Simon H S Pearce
Autoimmune Addison's disease (AAD) is a rare condition with a complex genetic basis. A panel of rare and functionally defective genetic variants in the sialic acid acetylesterase (SIAE) gene has recently been implicated in several common autoimmune conditions. We performed a case–control study to determine whether these rare variants are associated with a rarer condition, AAD.
We analysed nine SIAE gene variants (W48X, M89V, C196F, C226G, R230W, T312M, Y349C, F404S and R479C) in a United Kingdom cohort of 378 AAD subjects and 387 healthy controls. All samples were genotyped using Sequenom iPlex chemistry to characterise primer extension products.
A heterozygous rare allele at codon 312 (312*M) was found in one AAD patient (0.13%) but was not detected in the healthy controls. The commoner, functionally recessive variant at codon 89 (89*V) was found to be homozygous in two AAD patients but was only found in the heterozygous state in controls. Taking into account all nine alleles examined, 4/378 (1.06%) AAD patients and 1/387 (0.25%) healthy controls carried the defective SIAE alleles, with a calculated odds ratio of 4.13 (95% CI 0.44–97.45, two-tailed P value 0.212, NS).
We demonstrated the presence of 89*V homozygotes and the 312*M rare allele in the AAD cohort, but overall, our analysis does not support a role for rare variants in SIAE in the pathogenesis of AAD. However, the relatively small collection of AAD patients limits the power to exclude a small effect.