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Free access

Edwin J W Geven, Folkert Verkaar, Gert Flik and Peter H M Klaren

The effect of experimental hyperthyroidism, realized by T4 injection, on central mediators of the hypothalamo–pituitary–interrenal axis (HPI-axis) in common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) was studied. Our results show that hyperthyroidism evokes a marked 3.2-fold reduction in basal plasma cortisol levels. Corticotropin-releasing hormone-binding protein (CRH-BP) mRNA levels in the hypothalamus, measured by real-time quantitative PCR, were significantly elevated by 40%, but CRH, urotensin-I, prepro-TRH, prohormone convertase-1 (PC1), and POMC mRNA levels were unchanged. In the pituitary pars distalis, PC1, CRH receptor-1, and POMC mRNA levels were unaffected, as was ACTH content. Plasma α-MSH concentrations were significantly elevated by 30% in hyperthyroid fish, and this was reflected in PC1 and POMC mRNA levels in pituitary pars intermedia that were increased 1.5- and 2.4-fold respectively. The α-MSH content of the pars intermedia was unchanged. Hyperthyroidism has profound effects on the basal levels of a central mediator, i.e., CRH-BP, of HPI-axis function in unstressed carp in vivo, and we conclude that HPI- and hypothalamo–pituitary–thyroid-axis functions are strongly interrelated. We suggest that the changes in plasma cortisol, thyroid hormone, and α-MSH levels reflect their concerted actions on energy metabolism.

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S Costagliola, L Alcalde, J Ruf, G Vassart and M Ludgate

ABSTRACT

The availability of high affinity antibodies to the human TSH receptor (TSHR) would help in defining its functional domains, but this requires the production of pure receptor as immunogen. We have expressed the extracellular domain (ECD) of the TSHR (residues 21–414) as a fusion protein with maltose-binding protein (MBP) in Escherichia coli, using the pMAL-cRl vector. The major protein in an electrophoretically separated, crude bacterial lysate had a molecular mass of 89 kDa, in agreement with the size predicted for the MBP-ECD fusion product. Its identity was confirmed by Western blotting in which it was recognized by two polyclonal antibodies to synthetic peptides of the TSHR and an anti-MBP. Following purification on an amylose column, 15 mg pure MBP-ECD per litre of culture were produced, which was 5% of the total bacterial protein. Following extensive dialysis in a buffer which produces slight denaturation, MBP-ECD was cleaved with factor Xa. The identity of each protein was confirmed by Western blotting.

To investigate the possibility of using the fusion protein as an immunogen we produced rabbit polyclonal antibodies to the ECD which were able to produce immunofluorescent staining of Chinese hamster ovary cells that expressed the TSHR, and revealed a protein of 95 kDa in Western blots of the same cells, in addition to a protein of 55 kDa. Only the protein of 55 kDa was detected in Western blots of human thyroid membranes. Subsequently, immunoglobulins from mice immunized with MBP-ECD were shown to contain TSH-binding inhibiting activity and to inhibit TSH-mediated cyclic AMP production; these mice had a lower serum thyroxine level when compared with mice immunized with the MBP—β galactosidase fusion protein MBP-GAL.

The study shows the feasibility of using recombinant TSHR expressed in E. coli (i) to produce antibodies which recognize the native receptor and thus could be applied to studies of TSHR expression (e.g. in thyroid tumours), (ii) to establish animal models of autoimmune hypothyroidism and (iii) as the starting material in denaturation and refolding experiments which may help in defining structure—function relationships.

Free access

Michelle Mohyi and Terry J Smith

Thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) is a vexing and poorly understood autoimmune process involving the upper face and tissues surrounding the eyes. In TAO, the orbit can become inflamed and undergo substantial remodeling that is disfiguring and can lead to loss of vision. There are currently no approved medical therapies for TAO, the consequence of its uncertain pathogenic nature. It usually presents as a component of the syndrome known as Graves’ disease where loss of immune tolerance to the thyrotropin receptor (TSHR) results in the generation of activating antibodies against that protein and hyperthyroidism. The role for TSHR and these antibodies in the development of TAO is considerably less well established. We have reported over the past 2 decades evidence that the insulin-like growth factorI receptor (IGF1R) may also participate in the pathogenesis of TAO. Activating antibodies against IGF1R have been detected in patients with GD. The actions of these antibodies initiate signaling in orbital fibroblasts from patients with the disease. Further, we have identified a functional and physical interaction between TSHR and IGF1R. Importantly, it appears that signaling initiated from either receptor can be attenuated by inhibiting the activity of IGF1R. These findings underpin the rationale for therapeutically targeting IGF1R in active TAO. A recently completed therapeutic trial of teprotumumab, a human IGF1R inhibiting antibody, in patients with moderate to severe, active TAO, indicates the potential effectiveness and safety of the drug. It is possible that other autoimmune diseases might also benefit from this treatment strategy.

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G C Huang, M J Page, L B Nicholson, K S Collison, A M McGregor and J P Banga

ABSTRACT

Since the cloning of the TSH receptor (TSH-R), the target autoantigen of Graves' disease, the receptor has been expressed in a variety of eukaryotic cells to obtain a functional molecule. Despite this success, the levels of receptor expression have been marginally higher than the extremely low levels found in thyroid cells, preventing any progress on the purification of the molecule. In this study, the large extracellular region of the TSH-R, without the membrane spanning segments, has been expressed in insect cells using recombinant baculovirus to generate substantial quantities of the receptor protein. A monoclonal antibody previously generated to a bacterial TSH-R fusion protein was used to characterize and monitor the expression of the truncated receptor in insect cells. Two polypeptides of 63 and 49 kDa were recognized as the components of the truncated recombinant receptor. The 63 kDa protein was shown to be the glycosylated form of the smaller, 49 kDa, component. Expression in different insect cell lines showed that an increase in expression of approximately tenfold was apparent in High Five cells when compared with Sf21 cells. Very small quantities of the truncated receptor were secreted by the three insect cell lines examined, with the majority of the molecule being retained within the cells. Immunoaffinity purification of milligram quantities of the truncated receptor was achieved using the monoclonal antibody. The availability of the purified TSH-R has allowed the establishment of an enzymelinked immunosorbent assay to measure autoantibodies in the sera of patients with Graves' disease. Although the truncated receptor interacts with autoantibodies, our results show that it does not bind TSH and differs in this respect from other glycoprotein hormone receptors.

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C Massart, J Gibassier, M L Raoul, F Le Gall, G Lancien, N Genetet, A Denais, F Darcel and C Lucas

ABSTRACT

We have studied the action of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and intrathyroidal lymphocytes (ITLs) on the biochemical and hormonal metabolism of autologous thyrocytes cultured in follicles in a collagen gel. The production of tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) in culture was also measured. Thyroid tissues and lymphocytes were obtained from ten patients with Graves' disease and from five control subjects. Lymphocyte-induced cytotoxicity was evaluated in autologous thyrocytes cultured in a collagen gel by several tests: neutral red uptake, lactate dehydrogenase activity and glutathione level. Hormonal metabolism was assessed by evaluating tri-iodothyronine (T3) and total cAMP production under TSH stimulation. TNF-α levels were measured in supernatants after 5 days of coculture. PBLs altered biochemical metabolism, T3 synthesis and cAMP production in autologous thyroid follicles. These inhibitions were greater than those obtained with ITLs. No difference was seen between cells obtained from patients with Graves' disease and those from normal subjects. TNF-α levels secreted by PBLs were higher than those secreted by ITLs. The concentrations of this cytokine decreased in coculture. Significant correlations were observed between the decrease in biochemical and hormonal parameters and TNF-α levels. Exogenous TNF-α and high doses of interferon γ inhibited follicle metabolism, especially hormone secretion.

In conclusion, thyrocytes cultured in follicles provide a more sensitive model than monolayer cultures for analysis of lymphocyte-induced interactions. Lymphocytes gradually inhibit the biochemical and hormonal metabolism of autologous thyroid follicles depending on the isolation method. These alterations may be particularly attributed to TNF-α secreted by lymphocytes. The cytokine-induced inhibition of thyroid hormonal function apparently involves the adenylate cyclase system.

Free access

Y Oda, J Sanders, S Roberts, M Maruyama, R Kato, M Perez, VB Petersen, N Wedlock, J Furmaniak and B Rees Smith

We have used fragments of the TSH receptor (TSHR) expressed in E. coli as glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins to produce rabbit polyclonal antibodies and a panel (n=5) of monoclonal antibodies to the extracellular fragment of the TSHR. The binding characteristics of the antibodies to linear, conformational, glycosylated and unglycosylated forms of the receptor in different assay systems have been investigated. The reactivity of these antibodies with the TSHR was assessed by Western blotting with both native and recombinant human TSHR expressed in CHO cells, immunoprecipitation of 35S-labelled full-length TSHR produced in an in vitro transcription/ translation system, immunoprecipitation of 125I-TSH/TSHR complexes, inhibition of 125I-TSH binding to the TSHR and fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis of binding to CHO-K1 cells expressing the TSHR on their cell surface. Fab fragments of monoclonal antibodies were isolated, labelled with 125I and used to determine the affinity constants of these antibodies with receptor, bound and free Fab being separated by polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation. Rabbit polyclonal and mouse monoclonal antibodies reacted with the TSHR in Western blotting and one monoclonal antibody (3C7) was able to inhibit 125I-TSH binding to native human TSHR (74% inhibition), recombinant human TSHR (84% inhibition) and porcine TSHR (65% inhibition). Affinity constant values for TSHR monoclonal antibody Fab fragments calculated using Scatchard analysis were about 10(7) M(-1). Four out of five monoclonal antibodies reacted in FACS analysis with TSHR expressed on the surface of CHO-K1 cells. The FACS unreactive monoclonal (3C7) bound well to detergent solubilised TSH receptors and this emphasised the importance of using a combination of FACS analysis and radioactively-labelled probes in analysis of the TSH receptor. The monoclonal antibodies produced in this study were found to be of relatively low affinity but proved useful for detection of the receptor by Western blotting and by FACS analysis.

Free access

Paul Sanders, Stuart Young, Jane Sanders, Katarzyna Kabelis, Stuart Baker, Andrew Sullivan, Michele Evans, Jill Clark, Jane Wilmot, Xiaoling Hu, Emma Roberts, Michael Powell, Ricardo Núñez Miguel, Jadwiga Furmaniak and Bernard Rees Smith

A complex of the TSH receptor extracellular domain (amino acids 22–260; TSHR260) bound to a blocking-type human monoclonal autoantibody (K1-70) was purified, crystallised and the structure solved at 1.9 Å resolution. K1-70 Fab binds to the concave surface of the TSHR leucine-rich domain (LRD) forming a large interface (2565 Å2) with an extensive network of ionic, polar and hydrophobic interactions. Mutation of TSHR or K1-70 residues showing strong interactions in the solved structure influenced the activity of K1-70, indicating that the binding detail observed in the complex reflects interactions of K1-70 with intact, functionally active TSHR. Unbound K1-70 Fab was prepared and crystallised to 2.22 Å resolution. Virtually no movement was observed in the atoms of K1-70 residues on the binding interface compared with unbound K1-70, consistent with ‘lock and key’ binding. The binding arrangements in the TSHR260–K1-70 Fab complex are similar to previously observed for the TSHR260–M22 Fab complex; however, K1-70 clasps the concave surface of the TSHR LRD in approximately the opposite orientation (rotated 155°) to M22. The blocking autoantibody K1-70 binds more N-terminally on the TSHR concave surface than either the stimulating autoantibody M22 or the hormone TSH, and this may reflect its different functional activity. The structure of TSHR260 in the TSHR260–K1-70 and TSHR260–M22 complexes show a root mean square deviation on all Cα atoms of only 0.51 Å. These high-resolution crystal structures provide a foundation for developing new strategies to understand and control TSHR activation and the autoimmune response to the TSHR.

Free access

Julika Lietzow, Janine Golchert, Georg Homuth, Uwe Völker, Wenke Jonas and Josef Köhrle

The endogenous thyroid hormone (TH) metabolite 3,5-diiodo-l-thyronine (3,5-T2) acts as a metabolically active substance affecting whole-body energy metabolism and hepatic lipid handling in a desirable manner. Considering possible adverse effects regarding thyromimetic action of 3,5-T2 treatment in rodents, the current literature remains largely controversial. To obtain further insights into molecular mechanisms and to identify novel target genes of 3,5-T2 in liver, we performed a microarray-based liver tissue transcriptome analysis of male lean and diet-induced obese euthyroid mice treated for 4 weeks with a dose of 2.5 µg/g bw 3,5-T2. Our results revealed that 3,5-T2 modulates the expression of genes encoding Phase I and Phase II enzymes as well as Phase III transporters, which play central roles in metabolism and detoxification of xenobiotics. Additionally, 3,5-T2 changes the expression of TH responsive genes, suggesting a thyromimetic action of 3,5-T2 in mouse liver. Interestingly, 3,5-T2 in obese but not in lean mice influences the expression of genes relevant for cholesterol and steroid biosynthesis, suggesting a novel role of 3,5-T2 in steroid metabolism of obese mice. We concluded that treatment with 3,5-T2 in lean and diet-induced obese male mice alters the expression of genes encoding hepatic xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes that play a substantial role in catabolism and inactivation of xenobiotics and TH and are also involved in hepatic steroid and lipid metabolism. The administration of this high dose of 3,5-T2 might exert adverse hepatic effects. Accordingly, the conceivable use of 3,5-T2 as pharmacological hypolipidemic agent should be considered with caution.

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M R Thomas, J P Miell, A M Taylor, R J M Ross, J R Arnao, D E Jewitt and A M McGregor

ABSTRACT

Thyroid hormones are essential for the normal growth and development of many tissues. In the rat, hypothyroidism is associated with growth impairment, and hyperthyroidism with the development of a hypercatabolic state and skeletal muscle wasting but, paradoxically, cardiac hypertrophy. The mechanism by which thyroid hormone produces cardiac hypertrophy and myosin isoenzyme changes remains unclear. The role of IGF-I, an anabolic hormone with both paracrine and endocrine actions, in producing cardiac hypertrophy was investigated during this study in hyperthyroid, hypothyroid and control rats. A treated hypothyroid group was also included in order to assess the effect of acute normalization of thyroid function.

Body weight was significantly lower in the hyperthyroid (mean±s.e.m.; 535·5±24·9 g, P<0·05), hypothyroid (245·3±9·8 g, P<0·001) and treated hypothyroid (265·3±9·8 g, P<0·001) animals when compared with controls (618·5±28·6 g). Heart weight/body weight ratios were, however, significantly increased in the hyperthyroid (2·74 ± 0·11×10−3, P<0·01) and treated hypothyroid (2·87±0·07 ×10−3, P<0·001) animals when compared with controls (2·26±0·03 × 10−3). Serum IGF-I concentrations were similar in the control and hyperthyroid rats (0·91±0·07 vs 0·78±0·04 U/ml, P=0·26), but bioactivity was reduced by 70% in hyperthyroid serum, suggesting a circulating inhibitor of IGF. Serum IGF-I levels (0·12±0·03 U/ml, P<0·001) and bioactivity (0·12±0·04 U/ml, P<0·001) were significantly lower in the hypothyroid group. Liver IGF-I mRNA levels were not statistically different in the control and hyperthyroid animals, but were significantly reduced in the hypothyroid animals (P<0·05 vs control). Heart IGF-I mRNA levels were similar in the control and hypothyroid rats, but were significantly increased in the hyperthyroid and treated hypothyroid animals (increased by 32% in hyperthyroidism, P<0·05; increased by 57% in treated hypothyroidism, P<0·01). Cardiac IGF-I was significantly elevated in hyperthyroidism (0·16±0·01 U/mg heart tissue, P<0·01), was low in hypothyroidism (0·08±0·01 U/mg, P<0·01) and was normalized in the treated hypothyroid group (0·11 ± 0·01 U/mg vs control, 0·13±0·01 U/mg).

Low body mass during both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is therefore associated with reduced systemic IGF bioactivity. In hypothyroidism there is a primary defect in the endocrine function of IGF-I, while in hyperthyroidism serum IGF bioactivity is reduced in the presence of normal endocrine production of this anabolic hormone. In contrast, the paracrine actions of IGF-I are increased in the heart during hyperthyroidism, and this hormone appears to play a part in the development of hyperthyroid cardiac hypertrophy.

Free access

HF Vischer and J Bogerd

A cDNA encoding a putative thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (cfTSH-R) was cloned from the testis of the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus). The cfTSH-R showed the highest amino acid sequence identity with the TSH-Rs of other fish species. In addition, an insertion of approximately 50 amino acids, specific for the TSH-R subfamily, was also present in the carboxy terminus of the amino-terminal extracellular domain of the cfTSH-R. Next to the testis and thyroid follicles, abundant cfTSH-R expression was detected in cerebellum, brain, ovary, seminal vesicles and pituitary, while weaker expression was found in muscle, stomach, intestine, head-kidney, liver, kidney and heart. HEK-T 293 cells, transiently expressing the cfTSH-R, significantly increased intracellular cAMP levels in response to human TSH. Catfish LH, human choriogonadotropin and human FSH were also able to induce this cfTSH-R-mediated response, although with considerably lower efficiency than human TSH. These results indicated that a functional cfTSH-R had been cloned from the testis of African catfish.