New genetic insights from autoimmune thyroid disease

J Thyroid Res. 2012;2012:623852. doi: 10.1155/2012/623852. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


The autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs) (Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis) are complex genetic diseases which most likely have more than 20 genes contributing to the clinical phenotypes. To date, the genes known to be contributing fall into two categories: immune regulatory genes (including HLA, CTLA4, PTPN22, CD40, CD25, and FCRL3) and thyroid-specific genes (TG and TSHR). However, none of these genes contribute more than a 4-fold increase in risk of developing one of these diseases, and none of the polymorphisms discovered is essential for disease development. Hence, it appears that a variety of different gene interactions can combine to cause the same clinical disease pattern, but the contributing genes may differ from patient to patient and from population to population. Furthermore, this possible mechanism leaves open the powerful influence of the environment and epigenetic modifications of gene expression. For the clinician, this means that genetic profiling of such patients is unlikely to be fruitful in the near future.