MAR 04, 2017 2:05 PM PST

Thymic Tumors Trigger Newly Discovered Immune Disorder

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Six years ago, researchers from Kobe University discovered a new condition caused by an autoimmune reaction against PIT-1, a pituitary-specific transcription factor that is primarily involved in producing growth hormone (GH), thyroid stimulation hormone (TSH), and prolactin (PRL). This week, the same scientists uncovered evidence showing that the condition is caused by tumors in the thymic gland.

Credit: Kobe University

During their discovery of the new autoimmune disease, Kobe University researchers found anti-PIT-1 antibodies in the blood of patients with the apparent disease. Accordingly, they called the disease “anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome,” but at the time they did not know what was causing the immune system to become intolerant to the PIT-1 transcription factor.

Their new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed the one component consistently present in a variety of anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome cases: the detection of a thymoma, a tumor originating in the thymic gland. PIT-1 was found to be abnormally expressed within the detected thymomas, and cytotoxic T cells of the immune system were mistakenly designed to target PIT-1. Together, these two events triggered an autoimmune reaction characteristic of what the scientists called anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome.

Hypopituitarism, which appears to occur as a result of anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome, dampens the activity of the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain and regulates several hormones. The recent discovery from Kobe University offers researchers an opportunity to develop new treatments for both anti-PIT-1 antibody syndrome and similar autoimmune diseases.

"Around 20% of hypopituitarism cases are caused by unknown factors. This discovery has clarified one of the causes," said Associate Professor Takahashi. "We hope that this discovery will contribute to more effective diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering from autoimmune pituitary diseases, hypopituitarism, and thymomas."

Source: Kobe University

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 10, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 10, 2019
Promising Results for New Vaccine Against Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is an illness transmitted by mosquito bites. Affecting around 390 million people per year, if left untreated, its mortality rate is 20%. Altho...
NOV 12, 2019
Immunology
NOV 12, 2019
Allergy Shots May Work for Kids with Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome
It’s not common for young children to develop pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS), but for those that do, there’s not too much parents can do o...
NOV 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 17, 2019
Scientists Reveal a Link Between Brain Fog and Inflammation
When people get sick, they often also feel tired, which can be as troublesome as their disease....
NOV 29, 2019
Immunology
NOV 29, 2019
Protecting Killer Immune Cells from Themselves
Destroying human cells compromised by viruses and cancer is the name of the game for so-called “killer” cells of the immune system. They employ...
DEC 21, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 21, 2019
Improving Vaccines for Meningitis
Scientists at the University of Nottingham are seeking new ways to improve vaccine use in the protection against the bacterium, Neisseria meningitides that...
FEB 10, 2020
Immunology
FEB 10, 2020
How Cancer Evades the Immune System Time and Time Again
Scientists discovered a new mechanism by which cancer cells evade the immune system to further their own agenda: invade, multiply, and spread. Identifying...
Loading Comments...