Context: Mutations in TSH receptor (TSHR) are notoriously associated with congenital hypothyroidism as well as with non-autoimmune subclinical hypothyroidism, a mild form of TSH resistance that is not as well characterized by diagnostic procedures.
Objective: The genetic analysis of the TSHR gene was performed to determine the prevalence of TSHR gene mutations in non-autoimmune subclinical hypothyroidism during the pediatric age. The new mutations were studied for genotypic-phenotypic correlation.
Patients: Thirty-eight children (ages 0.5-18.0 yr) affected by non-autoimmune subclinical hypothyroidism diagnosed in our center (follow-up from 1 to 11.5 yr) and normal at neonatal screening were enrolled in the genetic study. In 11 cases, the relatives were included in the genetic analysis.
Results: Eleven different mutations of the TSHR gene were identified in 11 of the 38 patients. Two are new: the nonsense mutation C31X and the missense mutation P68S, which shows a decrease in TSH binding capacity but not in biological activity. In all cases the carrier parent was identified.
Conclusions: To date, this study demonstrates the highest prevalence (29%) of TSHR gene mutations in children and adolescents with non-autoimmune subclinical hypothyroidism not selected by neonatal screening. Functional studies show that some mutations cause a slight inactivation of the TSHR. This reveals a possible limit of the in vitro study or of the knowledge of mechanisms involving TSHR, or that other candidate genes must be considered.