What is the pathophysiology of Graves disease?

Updated: Apr 17, 2020
  • Author: Sai-Ching Jim Yeung, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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In Graves disease, B and T lymphocyte-mediated autoimmunity are known to be directed at 4 well-known thyroid antigens: thyroglobulin, thyroid peroxidase, sodium-iodide symporter and the thyrotropin receptor. However, the thyrotropin receptor itself is the primary autoantigen of Graves disease and is responsible for the manifestation of hyperthyroidism. In this disease, the antibody and cell-mediated thyroid antigen-specific immune responses are well defined. Direct proof of an autoimmune disorder that is mediated by autoantibodies is the development of hyperthyroidism in healthy subjects by transferring thyrotropin receptor antibodies in serum from patients with Graves disease and the passive transfer of thyrotropin receptor antibodies to the fetus in pregnant women.

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