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High prevalence of antithyroid peroxidase and antiparietal cell antibodies among patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus attending a tertiary diabetes centre in South Africa


Objective Data on the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) and gastric autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in Africa are limited. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of antithyroid peroxidase (TPO-A) and antiparietal cell antibody (PCA) in patients with T1DM at a tertiary diabetes clinic in Durban, South Africa.

Research design and methods This was a cross-sectional observational study among subjects attending the adult T1DM clinic at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital. Information about history and clinical examination was collected. Blood tests included glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody (GADA), TPO-A, PCA, vitamin B12, folate, ferritin, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine, lipids and HbA1c.

Results A total of 202 (M:F, 90:112) patients were recruited. The ethnic composition was African (black) (56.4%; n=114), Indian (31.7%; n=64), white (4.5%; n=9) and coloured (mixed race) (7.4%; n=15). Mean age and mean duration of diabetes were 26.4±11.4 and 10.7±9.1 years, respectively. Mean body mass index was 21.6±6.3 kg/m2. GADA was positive in 63.37% (n=128). The prevalence of TPO-A was 18.9% (n=39) and PCA 8.9% (n=17). The prevalence of overt hypothyroidism, subclinical hypothyroidism and Graves' disease was 10.9%, 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively; vitamin B12 deficiency was noted in 3.5% (n=7) and iron deficiency in 19.3% (n=39).

Conclusions Among patients with T1DM in this study, there was a high prevalence of coexistent AITD and gastric autoimmunity. Screening for hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity should be undertaken in all patients at initial presentation. However, to assess the feasibility and optimal timing of subsequent testing in the African setting with limited resources, more collaborative research with longitudinal studies is required.

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