Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies in patients treated with methimazole: a prospective Brazilian study
Abstract Introduction: The side effects of antithyroid drugs are well known. Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis is a severe adverse reaction. Most studies evaluating antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies related to antithyroid drugs have been carried out with patients treated with propylthiouracil, but less information is available for methimazole. Furthermore, most studies that investigated antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies related to antithyroid drugs were conducted on Asian populations. Objective: To evaluate the frequency of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies and antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-positive vasculitis in an adult population of Brazilian patients treated with methimazole. Methods: This was a prospective study. We evaluated patients ≥18 years with Graves’ disease who have been using methimazole for at least 6 months (Group A, n = 36); with Grave's disease who had been previously treated with methimazole but no longer used this medication for at least 6 months (Group B, n = 33), and with nodular disease who have been using methimazole for at least 6 months (Group C, n = 13). Results: ANCA were detected in 17 patients (20.7%). Four patients (4.9%) had a strong antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-positive test. The frequency of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies was similar in the groups. When Groups A and B were pooled and compared to Group C to evaluate the influence of Grave's disease, and when Groups A and C were pooled and compared to Group B to evaluate the influence of methimazole discontinuation, no difference was found in the frequency of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies. No difference was observed in sex, age, etiology of hyperthyroidism, anti-TSH receptor antibodies, dose or time of methimazole use between patients with versus without antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies. The titers of these antibodies were not correlated with the dose or time of methimazole use. None of the antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-positive patient had clinical event that could potentially result from vasculitis. Conclusion: This clinical study of a Brazilian population shows a considerable frequency of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies in patients treated with methimazole but the clinical repercussion of these findings remains undefined.