Evidence for the effect of antibodies to TSH receptors on the thyroid ultrasonographic volume in patients with Graves' disease


Dr Max Rieu, Hôpital Saint-Michel, 33 rue Olivier de Serres, 75015 Pans, France.


OBJECTIVE it has been demonstrated that antibodies (Ab) to thyroid-stimulating hormone receptors (R), which stimulate the thyroid gland, induce hyperthyroidism in patients with Graves' disease. Furthermore, it has been shown in thyroid cells in culture that thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor Ab acts through the adenosine 3′, 5′-monophosphate pathway which stimulates both thyroid hormonogenesis and growth. We investigated the relations between thyroid autoimmunlty expression and thyroid ultrasonographic parameters or thyroid hormonal status in patients with Graves' disease.

PATIENTS A prospective study of 53 consecutive patients referred with untreated Graves' disease.

MEASUREMENTS Measurements were made of serum TSH-R, peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (Tg) Ab and basal plasma free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3) and TSH. Thyroid morphological characteristics (number and total volume of nodule(s), total volume of lobes and total thyroid volume) were determined by ultrasonography.

RESULTS There were significant correlations (P < 0·001) between TSH-RAb levels and FT4 values (r= 0·48) or FT3 levels (r= 0·46). Likewise, significant correlations were found between TSH-RAb levels and total lobe volume values (r= 0·56, P < 0·001), total nodular volume values (r= 0·59, P < 0·01) or total thyroid volume values (r= 0·63, P< 0·001). By contrast, no correlation was found between TSH-RAb levels and the number of nodules or between any of the ultrasonographic parameters and TPOAb levels or TgAB values.

CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrates, in vivo, that TSH receptor antibodies modulate the thyroid ultrasonographic edranodular and nodular volumes in patients with Graves' disease.