Article

Autoimmune Addison's disease

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS trust, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Endocrine Unit, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, United Kingdom. Electronic address: .
La Presse Médicale (Impact Factor: 1.17). 11/2012; 41(12). DOI: 10.1016/j.lpm.2012.09.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Addison's disease is a rare autoimmune disorder. In the developed world, autoimmune adrenalitis is the commonest cause of primary adrenal insufficiency, where the majority of patients have circulating antibodies against the key steroidogenic enzyme 21-hydroxylase. A complex interplay of genetic, immunological and environmental factors culminates in symptomatic adrenocortical insufficiency, with symptoms typically developing over months to years. Biochemical evaluation and further targeted investigations must confirm primary adrenal failure and establish the underlying aetiology. The diagnosis of adrenocortical insufficiency will necessitate lifelong glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy, aiming to emulate physiological patterns of hormone secretion to achieve well-being and good quality of life. Education of patients and healthcare professionals is essential to minimise the risk of a life-threatening adrenal crisis, which must be promptly recognised and aggressively managed when it does occur. This article provides an overview of our current understanding of the natural history and underlying genetic and immunological basis of this condition. Future research may reveal novel therapeutic strategies for patient management. Until then, optimisation of pharmacological intervention and continued emphasis on education and empowerment of patients should underpin the management of individuals with autoimmune Addison's disease.

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