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J Immunol. 1999 Nov 1;163(9):5157-64.

Induction of experimental autoimmune Graves' disease in BALB/c mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago 60612, USA.


We immunized BALB/c mice with M12 cells (H-2d) expressing either mouse (mM12 cells) or human thyrotropin receptor (TSHR) (hM12 cells). Immunized mice developed autoantibodies to native TSHR by day 90 and, by day 180, showed considerable stimulatory Ab activity as measured by their ability to enhance cAMP production (ranging from 6. 52 to 20.83 pmol/ml in different treatment groups relative to 1.83 pmol/ml for controls) by TSHR-expressing Chinese hamster ovary cells. These mice developed severe hyperthyroidism with significant elevations in both tetraiodothyronine and triiodothyronine hormones. Tetraiodothyronine levels in different experimental groups ranged from a mean of 8.66-12.4 microg/dl, relative to 4.8 microg/dl in controls. Similarly, mean triiodothyronine values ranged from 156.18 to 195.13 ng/dl, relative to 34.99 ng/dl for controls. Next, we immunized BALB/c mice with a soluble extracellular domain of human TSHR (TBP), or TBP expressed on human embryonic kidney cells (293 cells) (293-TBP cells). These mice showed severe hyperthyroidism in a manner very similar to that described above for mice immunized with the mouse TSHR or human TSHR, and exhibited significant weight loss, with average weight for treatment groups ranging from 20.6 to 21.67 g, while controls weighed 24.2 g. Early after onset of the disease, histopathological examination of thyroids showed enlargement of colloids and thinning of epithelial cells without inflammation. However, later during disease, focal necrosis and lymphocytic infiltration were apparent. Our results showed that conformationally intact ectodomain of TSHR is sufficient for disease induction. Availability of a reproducible model in which 100% of the animals develop disease should facilitate studies aimed at understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Graves' disease.

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