Vitiligo is a skin disease with typical light patches of skin (depigmentation). Autoimmunity and endocrine diseases are believed to be related to vitiligo, and there is some suggestion that vitiligo is related to thyroid dysfunction also. This study was done to find a relationship between vitiligo and thyroid autoimmunity.
The study involved a count of the frequency of thyroid autoantibodies in the blood of 33 patients with vitiligo and 33 normal controls (for comparison). Thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were also tested. The study showed that thyroid test abnormalities were seen in 6 of the 33 vitiligo patients and only 1 of the control group. Four vitiligo patients had goiters of the thyroid.
Two thyroid autoantibodies (antibodies against the persons own tissues) were tested; abnormalities were seen in 9 patients for one test and in 8 patients for the other. Only two control subjects had thyroid autoantibodies. In the general population, about 10% of people have thyroid autoantibodies. (This study showed the anti-TPO antibody to be more significant than anti-Tg antibody.)
Vitiligo commonly precedes thyroid symptoms, so screening of vitiligo patients for thyroid disease is suggested. Testing should look for mild hypothyroidism or get a baseline blood level to compare with future testing.
CONCLUSION: There appears to be a significant relationship between vitiligo and autoimmune thyroid disease. Patients with vitiligo should be tested for thyroid autoantibodies.
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