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Thyroid. 2012 Aug;22(8):839-43. doi: 10.1089/thy.2011.0520. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

A drug-like antagonist inhibits thyrotropin receptor-mediated stimulation of cAMP production in Graves' orbital fibroblasts.

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Laboratory of Endocrinology and Receptor Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-8029, USA.



Fibroblasts (FIBs) within the retro-orbital space of patients with Graves' disease (GOFs) express thyrotropin receptors (TSHRs) and are thought to be an orbital target of TSHR-stimulating autoantibodies in Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO). Recently, we developed a low molecular weight, drug-like TSHR antagonist (NCGC00229600) that inhibited TSHR activation in a model cell system overexpressing TSHRs and in normal human thyrocytes expressing endogenous TSHRs. Herein, we test the hypothesis that NCGC00229600 will inhibit activation of TSHRs endogenously expressed in GOFs.


Three strains of GOFs, previously obtained from patients with GO, were studied as undifferentiated FIBs and after differentiation into adipocytes (ADIPs), and another seven strains were studied only as FIBs. ADIP differentiation was monitored by morphology and measurement of adiponectin mRNA. FIBs and ADIPs were treated with the TSH- or TSHR-stimulating antibody M22 in the absence or presence of NCGC00229600 and TSHR activation was monitored by cAMP production.


FIBs contained few if any lipid vesicles and undetectable levels of adiponectin mRNA, whereas ADIPs exhibited abundant lipid vesicles and levels of adiponectin mRNA more than 250,000 times greater than FIBs; TSHR mRNA levels were 10-fold higher in ADIPs than FIBs. FIBs exhibited higher absolute levels of basal and forskolin-stimulated cAMP production than ADIPs. Consistent with previous findings, TSH stimulated cAMP production in the majority of ADIP strains and less consistently in FIBs. Most importantly, NCGC00229600 reduced both TSH- and M22-stimulated cAMP production in GOFs.


These data confirm previous findings that TSHR activation may cause increased cAMP production in GOFs and show that NCGC00229600 can inhibit TSHR activation in GOFs. These findings suggest that drug-like TSHR antagonists may have a role in treatment of GO.

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