The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism

Involvement of PIT-1-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes in anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome.

PMID 24937538


Anti-pituitary-specific transcriptional factor 1 (PIT-1) antibody syndrome is characterized by acquired growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) deficiencies associated with circulating anti-PIT-1 antibodies. Although autoimmunity to PIT-1 has been suggested as a pathogenesis, the precise mechanism of the syndrome remains unclarified. To elucidate the involvement of antibody- or cell-mediated immunity in anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome. To investigate a direct effect of anti-PIT-1 antibody on pituitary cells, cell proliferation, and cytotoxicity detection assays were performed using patient serum. Enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay was performed to evaluate the involvement of PIT-1-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). An immunohistochemical analysis using anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 antibody was performed to examine tissue infiltration by CTLs. Patient serum did not exhibit any inhibitory effect on cell proliferation and secretion of GH and PRL in GH3 cells. In addition, complement-dependent cytotoxicity was not detected in patient serum on GH3 cells or primary pituitary cells. The ELISpot assay revealed the presence of CTLs that specifically reacted to the recombinant PIT-1 protein in the patient's peripheral lymphocytes. CD8(+) cell infiltrations, which is the characteristic of CTLs, were observed in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, stomach, thyroid gland, liver, and pancreas of the patient with anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome. These results suggest that the anti-PIT-1 antibody is not a cause but a marker of anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome, in which CTLs play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis.