Graves disease, a common organ-specific autoimmune disease affecting humans, differs from all other autoimmune diseases in being associated with target organ hyperfunction rather than organ damage. Clinical thyrotoxicosis is directly caused by autoantibodies that activate the thyrotropin receptor (TSHR). The etiology of Graves disease is multifactorial, with nongenetic factors playing an important role. Of the latter, there is the intriguing possibility that the molecular structure of the target antigen contributes to the development of thyroid-stimulatory autoantibodies (TSAb’s). Among the glycoprotein hormone receptors, only the TSHR undergoes intramolecular cleavage into disulfide-linked subunits with consequent shedding of some of the extracellular, autoantibody-binding A subunits. Functional autoantibodies do not arise to the noncleaving glycoprotein hormone receptors. Recently, TSAb’s were found to preferentially recognize shed, rather than attached, A subunits. Here we use a new adenovirus-mediated animal model of Graves disease to show that goiter and hyperthyroidism occur to a much greater extent when the adenovirus expresses the free A subunit as opposed to a genetically modified TSHR that cleaves minimally into subunits. These data show that shed A subunits induce or amplify the immune response leading to hyperthyroidism and provide new insight into the etiology of Graves disease.
Chun-Rong Chen, Pavel Pichurin, Yuji Nagayama, Francesco Latrofa, Basil Rapoport, Sandra M. McLachlan
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.