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Free access

T Mokuno, K Uchimura, R Hayashi, N Hayakawa, M Makino, M Nagata, H Kakizawa, Y Sawai, M Kotake, N Oda, A Nakai, A Nagasaka and M Itoh

The deterioration of glucose metabolism frequently observed in hyperthyroidism may be due in part to increased gluconeogenesis in the liver and glucose efflux through hepatocyte plasma membranes. Glucose transporter 2 (GLUT 2), a facilitative glucose transporter localized to the liver and pancreas, may play a role in this distorted glucose metabolism. We examined changes in the levels of GLUT 2 in livers from rats with l-thyroxine-induced hyperthyroidism or methimazole-induced hypothyroidism by using Western blotting to detect GLUT 2. An oral glucose tolerance test revealed an oxyhyperglycemic curve (impaired glucose tolerance) in hyperthyroid rats (n=7) and a flattened curve in hypothyroid rats (n=7). GLUT 2 levels in hepatocyte plasma membranes were significantly increased in hyperthyroid rats and were not decreased in hypothyroid rats compared with euthyroid rats. The same results were obtained with a densitometric assay. These findings suggest that changes in the liver GLUT 2 concentration may contribute to abnormal glucose metabolism in thyroid disorders.

Free access

Beate Karges, Gerd Krause, Janos Homoki, Klaus-Michael Debatin, Nicolas de Roux and Wolfram Karges

Mutations of the human thyrotrophin receptor (TSH-R) are a cause of thyroid adenomas and hyperthyroidism. Here we study mechanisms of receptor activation in a genomic TSH-R variant V509A located in transmembrane helix (TMH) 3, which we identify in a family with congenital hyperthyroidism, multiple adenomas and follicular thyroid cancer. Using molecular modelling and dynamic simulation, we predicted the release of amino acid residue A593 (located opposite in domain TMH5) from a tight ‘knob-and-hole’ interaction with TMH3, physiologically constrained in the native receptor state by the bulky side chain of V509. To experimentally validate this concept, we generated mutant TSH-R expression constructs for functional in vitro studies. TSH-R mutant V509A showed a 2.8-fold increase in basal cAMP production, confirming constitutive TSH-R activation. The addition of a second site suppressor mutant A593V to TSH-R V509A resulted in the normalization of basal cAMP release, and the dose-responsiveness to TSH ligand was maintained. These data thus demonstrate that TSH-R V509A activation is caused by the release of TMH3–TMH5 interhelical constraints, while the native TSH-R conformation is re-stabilized by the introduction of a spacious valine residue at position 593. In conclusion, we delineate a novel mechanism of constitutive TSH-R activation, leading to thyroid hyperfunction and neoplasia.

Open access

Shuang-Xia Zhao, Shanli Tsui, Anthony Cheung, Raymond S Douglas, Terry J Smith and J Paul Banga

The TSH receptor (TSHR) is the critical target for antibody production in Graves' disease (GD). Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) has been proposed as a second autoantigen in complications of GD such as orbitopathy. We attempted to induce orbital tissue remodeling in mice undergoing immunizations with plasmids encoding TSHR and IGF1R delivered by in vivo skeletal muscle electroporation, a procedure known to give a sustained, long-term antibody response. Female BALB/c mice were challenged with TSHR A-subunit or IGF1Rα subunit plasmid by injection and electroporation. Mice challenged with TSHR A-subunit plasmid resulted in high frequency (75%) of hyperthyroidism and thyroid-stimulating antibodies. But strikingly, immunization with TSHR A-subunit plasmid also elicited antibody to IGF1Rα subunit. Mice challenged in the same manner with IGF1Rα subunit plasmid produced strong antibody responses to IGF1R, but did not undergo any changes in phenotype. Simultaneous challenge by double antigen immunization with the two plasmids in distant anatomical sites reduced the incidence of hyperthyroidism, potentially as a consequence of antigenic competition. Thyroid glands from the TSHR A-subunit plasmid-challenged group were enlarged with patchy microscopic infiltrates. Histological analysis of the orbital tissues demonstrated moderate connective tissue fibrosis and deposition of Masson's trichrome staining material. Our findings imply that immunization with TSHR A-subunit plasmid leads to generation of IGF1R antibodies, which together with thyroid-stimulating antibodies may precipitate remodeling of orbital tissue, raising our understanding of its close association with GD.

Free access

Takao Ando, Rauf Latif and Terry F Davies

The post-translational processing of the TSH receptor (TSHR) includes intra-molecular cleavage with the loss of a 50 amino acid ectodomain region and the formation of two subunits (α and β), followed by likely α subunit shedding. TSHR antibodies (TSHR-Abs), which are directed at the ectodomain, may influence thyroid function by stimulating or inhibiting TSHR signaling or may bind without any such influence (the neutral group of antibodies). When we examined the characteristics of a series of monoclonal TSHR-Abs, we found that many were able to inhibit receptor cleavage and enhance TSHR expression. This was especially apparent with the neutral type of TSHR-Abs directed to the cleaved region of the ectodomain (aa 316–366). Indeed, such inhibition appeared to be epitope dependent with TSHR-Abs directed to regions after residues 335–354 showing no such activity. We propose that this aberrant process, whereby TSHR-Abs influence antigen processing, is a novel mechanism for the maintenance and exacerbation of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Free access

SM van der Heide, BJ Joosten, ME Everts and PH Klaren

We have investigated the hypothesis that uridine 5'-diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronyltransferases (UGTs) and beta-glucuronidase are jointly involved in a mechanism for the storage and mobilization of iodothyronine metabolites in liver, kidney, heart and brain. Specifically, we predicted UGT activities to decrease and increase respectively, and beta-glucuronidase activity to increase and decrease respectively in hypo- and hyperthyroidism. To this end we have studied the effects of thyroid status on the activities of different enzymes involved in thyroid hormone metabolism in liver, kidney, heart and brain from adult rats with experimentally induced hypo- and hyperthyroidism. We used whole organ homogenates to determine the specific enzyme activities of phenol- and androsteron-UGT, beta-glucuronidase, as well as iodothyronine deiodinase types I and II. Deiodinase type I activities in liver and kidney were decreased in hypothyroid animals and, in liver only, increased in hyperthyroidism. Deiodinase type II activity was increased in hyperthyroid rat kidney only. Interestingly, in the heart, deiodinase type I-specific activity was increased fourfold, although the increase was not statistically significant. Cardiac deiodinase type I activity was detectable but not sensitive to thyroid status. Hepatic phenol-UGT as well as androsteron-UGT activities were decreased in hypothyroid rats, with specific androsteron-UGT activities two to three orders of magnitude lower than phenol-UGT activities. Both UGT isozymes were well above detection limits in heart, but appeared to be insensitive to thyroid status. In contrast, cardiac beta-glucuronidase activity decreased in hypothyroid tissue, whereas the activity of this enzyme in the other organs investigated did not change significantly.In summary, cardiac beta-glucuronidase, albeit in low levels, and hepatic phenol-UGT activities were responsive only to experimental hypothyroidism. Although a high basal activity of the pleiotropic beta-glucuronidase masking subtle activity changes in response to thyroid status cannot be ruled out, we conclude that hepatic, renal and cardiac UGT and beta-glucuronidase activities are not regulated reciprocally with thyroid status.

Free access

M Theodoropoulou, T Arzberger, Y Gruebler, Z Korali, P Mortini, W Joba, AE Heufelder, GK Stalla and L Schaaf

Thyrotrophin (TSH) synthesis and secretion is under the positive control of thyrotrophin releasing hormone and under the negative control of the thyroid hormones. However, it is hypothesised that TSH has a direct effect on the regulation of its own synthesis through an intrapituitary loop mediated by pituitary TSH receptors (TSH-R). The aim of this investigation was to study the expression of TSH-R in normal human pituitary at mRNA and protein levels, and to compare the pattern of protein expression between different pituitary adenomas. Using RT-PCR we were able to detect TSH-R mRNA in the normal pituitary, and immunohistochemical studies showed TSH-R protein expression in distinct areas of the anterior pituitary. Double immunostaining with antibodies against each of the intrapituitary hormones and S100 revealed that TSH-R protein is present in thyrotrophs and folliculostellate cells. Examination of 58 pituitary adenomas, including two clinically active and two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas, revealed TSH-R immunopositivity in only the two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas. This study shows, for the first time, the presence of TSH-R protein in the normal anterior pituitary and in a subset of thyrotroph adenomas. The expression of TSH-R in the thyrotroph and folliculostellate cell subpopulations provides preliminary evidence of a role for TSH in autocrine and paracrine regulatory pathways within the anterior pituitary gland.

Free access

Alicia J Klecha, Ana M Genaro, Gabriela Gorelik, María Laura Barreiro Arcos, Dafne Magalí Silberman, Mariano Schuman, Silvia I Garcia, Carlos Pirola and Graciela A Cremaschi

Thyroid hormones play critical roles in differentiation, growth and metabolism, but their participation in immune system regulation has not been completely elucidated. Modulation of in vivo thyroid status was used to carry out an integrative analysis of the role of the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid (HPT) axis in T and B lymphocyte activity. The participation of the protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathway and the release of some cytokines upon antigenic stimulation were analyzed. Lymphocytes from hyperthyroid mice displayed higher T-and B-cell mitogen-induced proliferation, and those from hypothyroid mice displayed lower T- and B-cell mitogen-induced proliferation, compared with euthyroid animals. Reversion of hypothyroid state by triiodothyronine (T3) administration recovered the proliferative responses. No differences were found in lymphoid subset balance. Both total PKC content and mitogen-induced PKC translocation were higher in T and B cells from hyperthyroid mice, and lower in cells from hypothyroid mice, compared with controls. Levels of thyroid-stimulating (TSH) and TSH-releasing (TRH) hormones were not directly related to lymphocyte proliferative responses. After immunization with sheep red blood cells (SRBCs) and re-stimulation, in vitro spleen cells from hyper- or hypothyroid mice showed, respectively, increased or decreased production of interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-γ cytokines. Additionally, an increase in IL-6 and IFN-γ levels was found in hyperthyroid cells after in vivo injection and in vitro re-stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS).

Our results show for the first time a thyroid hormone-mediated regulation of PKC content and of cytokine production in lymphocytes; this regulation could be involved in the altered responsiveness to mitogen-induced proliferation of T and B cells. The results also confirm the important role that these hormones play in regulating lymphocyte reactivity.

Free access

S G Watson, A D Radford, A Kipar, P Ibarrola and L Blackwood

Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrinopathy in cats, and is both clinically and histopathologically very similar to human toxic nodular goitre (TNG). Molecular studies on human TNG have revealed the presence of mis-sense mutations in the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) gene, most frequently in exon 10. Our hypothesis was that similar mutations exist in hyperthyroid cats. Genomic DNA was extracted from 134 hyperplastic/ adenomatous nodules (from 50 hyperthyroid cats), and analysed for the presence of mutations in exon 10 of the TSHR gene. 11 different mutations were detected, one silent and 10 mis-sense, of which nine were somatic mutations. 28 of the 50 cats (67/134 nodules) had at least one mis-sense mutation. The mis-sense mutations were Met-452→Thr in 17 cats (35 nodules), Ser-504→Arg (two different mutational forms) in two cats (two nodules), Val-508→Arg in one cat (three nodules), Arg-530→Gln in one cat (two nodules), Val-557→Leu in 13 cats (36 nodules), Thr-631→Ala or Thr-631→Phe (each mutation seen in one nodule of one cat), Asp-632→Tyr in six cats (10 nodules) and Asp-632→His in one cat (one nodule). Five of these mutations have been associated previously with human hyperthyroidism. Of the 41 cats for which more than one nodule was available, 14 had nodules with different mutations. The identification of a potential genetic basis for feline hyperthyroidism is novel, increases our understanding of the pathogenesis of this significant feline disease, and confirms its similarity to TNG.

Free access

ST Chen, JD Lin and KH Lin

The expression of TSH receptor (TSHR) gene is frequently lost in thyroid cancers during the process of dedifferentiation that involves perturbation of several nuclear transcription factors. We have established that thyroid hormone receptor beta1 (TRbeta1) is associated with the loss of TSHR gene expression in an anaplastic human thyroid cancer cell line, ARO. To demonstrate that TRbeta1 regulates TSHR gene expression, we performed electrophoresis mobility shift and 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3) transactivation assays. As expected, TRbeta1 bound the synthesized oligomer containing TSHR promoter sequence by heterodimerizing with retinoid X receptor. When a chimeric reporter pTRCAT5'-146 enclosing the minimal TSHR promoter was applied for T3 transactivation assay, two TRbeta1-overexpressing transfectants of ARO cells (ARO1 and ARO2) demonstrated higher basal activity than their parental cells. Consequentially, T3 suppressed the reporter gene activity only in ARO1 and ARO2, but not in ARO cells. A point mutation creating a cAMP response element (CRE) in the reporter pTRCAT5'-146 CRE led to T3-induced suppression of the reporter gene in ARO cells without changing the basal or T3-induced activities in ARO1 and ARO2 cells. We conclude that the regulatory effect of T3 on TSHR gene expression is TR- and promoter DNA sequence-determined.

Free access

C Voigt, HP Holzapfel, S Meyer and R Paschke

G-protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) are implicated in the pathophysiology of human diseases such as arterial hypertension, heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis. While G-protein-coupled receptor kinases 2 and 5 have been shown to be involved in the desensitization of the rat thyrotropin receptor (TSHR), their role in the pathophysiology of hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules (HTNs) is unknown. Therefore, we analyzed the expression pattern of the known GRKs in human thyroid tissue and investigated their function in the pathology of HTNs. The expression of different GRKs in human thyroid and HTNs was measured by Western blotting. The influence of GRK expression on TSHR function was analyzed by coexpression experiments in HEK 293 cells. We demonstrate that in addition to GRKs 2, 5 and 6, GRKs 3 and 4 are also expressed in the human thyroid. GRKs 2, 3, 5 and 6 are able to desensitize the TSHR in vitro. This GRK-induced desensitization is amplified by the additional over-expression of beta-arrestin 1 or 2. We did not find any mutations in the GRKs 2, 3 and 5 from 14 HTNs without TSHR mutations and Gsalpha mutations. The expression of GRKs 3 and 4 was increased in HTNs independently from the existence of TSHR mutations or Gsalpha mutations. In conclusion, the increased expression of GRK 3 in HTNs and the ability of GRK 3 to desensitize the TSHR in vitro, suggest a potential role for GRK 3 as a negative feedback regulator for the constitutively activated cAMP pathway in HTNs.