Graves’ disease encompasses hyperthyroidism and a diffuse goiter associated with autoantibodies to the TSH receptor (TRAb). Although the cause of the goiter formation has been attributed to TRAb, the limited growth pattern of human adult thyroid cells in vitro has caused such a conclusion to be based on studies of nonhuman thyroid cell growth. We have recently characterized a predictable and precise technique for the measurement of human thyroid cell proliferation and function using fetal thyroid cells and have used this system to examine the influence of TRAb on human thyroid cell growth. Highly purified human immunoglobulin G (hIgG) preparations from normal individuals (n = 5) had no significant influence on human thyroid cell growth. However, hIgG from patients with detectable TRAb (TRAb-hIgG) (n = 13) induced a dose-related increase in extracellular cAMP (maximum effect at 0.1 mg/ml) and a 3-fold increase in human thyroid cell growth over a 4-day period (maximum effect at 1.5 mg/ml). Under basal thyroid cell culture conditions there were detectable, but low, levels of mRNA specific for the protooncogene c-fos, and this was markedly, and rapidly, induced by the addition of TRAb-hIgG but not normal hIgG. These data demonstrate induction of cellular growth by TRAb-hIgG in an homologous human thyroid cell culture system. Such observations support the hypothesis that goiter formation in patients with Graves’ disease is, at least in part, secondary to the growth stimulating activity of TRAb-hIgG.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical