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Very Different Symptoms Of Graves' Disease And Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Explained

  December, 2 2000 3:28
your information resource in human molecular genetics
To die or not to die

The thyroid gland regulates the metabolism by producing hormones that are necessary for normal growth and maturation. Hormones are released when thyrocyte cells in the thyroid are stimulated. A new study in the December issue of Nature Immunology (Vol. 1, No. 6, 01 Dec 2000) explains the very different symptoms of Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, both autoimmune diseases of the thyroid, by the finding that these cells react very differently to signals that trigger them to die. In Graves' disease, thyroid cells proliferate and produce too much hormone. Conversely, Hashimoto's thyroiditis ultimately leads to insufficient hormone because the autoimmune disease causes the thyrocytes to die.

Researchers from Rome, Italy, showed that, although in both diseases thyrocytes display a protein that can trigger thyrocyte "suicide", only in Hashimoto's thyroiditis are the thyrocytes destroyed. This is because in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, the immune milieu produces proteins (cytokines) that favor the production of internal killing proteins in the thyrocytes. In Graves' disease, however, the cytokines trigger internal shields that protect against cellular "suicide". This understanding of how underlying differences in the immune environment cause such different diseases could aid the development of therapies that target the cytokines produced by the immune cells in each disease.

A News & Views was written on this paper by Douglas R. Green of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology In San Diego.

Contact Information:

Ruggero De Maria
Istituto Superiore di Sanita
Laboratory of Hematology and Oncology
Viale Regina Elena 299
Roma 00161
Tel: +39 06-499-03121
Fax: +39 06-493-87087

Douglas Green
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Dept of Cell Immunology
10355 Science Center Dr.
San Diego, CA 92121
Tel: +1 858-558-3515 or 3543
Fax: +1 858-558-3526

(C) Nature Immunology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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