[The role of circulating immune complexes in the pathogenesis of Graves' disease]

Nihon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi. 1983 Dec 20;59(12):1912-27. doi: 10.1507/endocrine1927.59.12_1912.
[Article in Japanese]


It has recently been reported that many immunological abnormalities including the presence of TSH-receptor antibody (TRAb) were found in Graves' disease (GD). Circulating immune complexes (CIC) have also been detected in the serum of patients with GD as observed in systemic lupus erythematosus, which is thought to be a typical model of immune complex disease. The role of CIC in pathogenesis of hyperthyroidism, however, remains to be elucidated. Therefore, to clarify pathophysiological functions of CIC in GD, the levels of it in those patients were compared with their symptoms, those of TRAb, and lymphoblastogenesis (LBG) induced by phytohemagglutinin (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), and pokeweed mitogen (PWM). The subjects were forty patients with GD without any medication, one hundred and nine patients with GD on medication with methimazole (MMI), and fifteen healthy volunteers. CIC was measured by three different methods; polyethyleneglycol precipitation method (PEG), Clq binding assay (Clq), and Protein A binding assay (PA). The normal range was estimated with the mean plus or minus two times the standard deviation of normal controls. In untreated GD, CIC determined by PEG, Clq and PA widely distributed from normal range to high levels. The positive rates of CIC determined by PEG, Clq, PA, and any one method of these three were 17.5%, 22.5%, 30.0% and 52.5%, respectively. LBG using incorporation of tritiated thymidine showed the decreases in PHA and Con A, and the increases in PWM in patients with GD. The positive rates of CIC determined by PEG and PA were significantly higher in patients without goiter or with small one than those with large one (p less than 0.05). CIC measured by all three of PEG, Clq and PA showed negative correlation with TRAb significantly (p less than 0.05, p less than 0.01, p less than 0.01, respectively). On the other hand, CIC measured by Clq showed significant negative correlation with serum thyroxine concentration (p less than 0.01). The levels of CIC, TRAb and PWM-induced LBG decreased following the tapering dose of MMI sufficient to keep patients in euthyroid state. In consequence, there were no longer any correlations between CIC and TRAb after thyroid function was normalized. These observations suggest that CIC's which have huge molecular weight or have ability to bind Fc receptor on K cell, macrophage, neutrophil, and other immune cells may be one of the factors to inhibit the goitrogenic action of TRAb, and that CIC's which have ability to activate the complement system may be one of the factors to inhibit the stimulation of secretion of thyroid hormone by TRAb.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / analysis
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / physiology*
  • Graves Disease / etiology
  • Graves Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Acting Thyroid Stimulator / blood
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin
  • Thyrotropin / immunology
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Antibodies
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Mitogens
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Long-Acting Thyroid Stimulator
  • Thyroxine