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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1981 Mar;14(3):301-10.

A comparative study of the binding of Graves' immunoglobulins by the patients own and other thyroid membranes.


Thyroid membrane preparations from six patients with active Graves' disease were tested in an assay which detects the thyroid interactive immunoglobulins of Graves' disease by their inhibition of binding of [125I]-thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). With all preparations inhibition of binding of 125I-TSH by excess TSH could be demonstrated (specific binding). The patients' own immunoglobulins were assayed against their own thyroid membranes and against each other's under exactly comparable conditions. Inhibition of binding by IgGs from the patients varied between membrane preparations: with one preparation 5/6 IgGs were inhibitory but with another none were effective. Of the six patients, their own IgG inhibited binding of 125I-TSH to their own thyroid membrane preparation in only four instances, and when interaction did occur this did not reliably predict that the membrane preparation would interact with IgGs from other patients with Graves' disease. The selection of a membrane preparation for this assay cannot be made solely on ability to specifically bind TSH but the measure of the specific interaction with a Graves' IgG of proven potency must also be considered. Moreover, because of the variability between different membrane preparations, sequential clinical studies on individual patients, of the changes in concentration of Graves' IgG, must be performed using the same selected thyroid membrane preparation. We infer from these observations that the membrane structure in the vicinity of the TSH binding site is an important determinant of the interaction of Graves' IgGs with the TSH receptor, and that the configuration of this area is variable between individuals of the same species. The distinction between 'human-specific' and 'non-species-specific' thyroid stimulating antibodies is therefore probably not valid. The observation that the patient's own IgG was not often the most potent IgG inhibitor of binding of TSH also suggests that the Graves' IgG binding site is not identical or restricted to the TSH binding site; alternative explanations are discussed.

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