JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
REVIEW
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Autoimmune thyroid diseases: genetic susceptibility of thyroid-specific genes and thyroid autoantigens contributions.

Autoimmune thyroid diseases are common polygenic multifactorial disorders with the environment contributing importantly to the emergence of the disease phenotype. Some of the disease manifestations, such as severe thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy, pretibial myxedema and thyroid antigen/antibody immune complex nephritis are unusual to rare. The spectrum of autoimmune thyroid diseases includes: Graves' disease (GD), Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), atrophic autoimmune thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, painless thyroiditis unrelated to pregnancy and thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy. This spectrum present contrasts in terms of thyroid function, disease duration and spread to other anatomic location. The genetic basis of autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) is complex and likely to be due to genes of both large and small effects. In GD the autoimmune process results in the production of thyroid-stimulating antibodies and lead to hyperthyroidism, whereas in HT the end result is destruction of thyroid cells and hypothyroidism. Recent studies in the field of autoimmune thyroid diseases have largely focused on (i) the genes involved in immune response and/or thyroid physiology with could influence susceptibility to disease, (ii) the delineation of B-cell autoepitopes recognized by the main autoantigens, thyroglobulin, thyroperoxidase and TSH receptor, to improve our understanding of how these molecules are seen by the immune system and (iii) the regulatory network controlling the synthesis of thyroid hormones and its dysfunction in AITD. The aim of the present review is to summarize the current knowledge regarding the relation existing between some susceptibility genes, autoantigens and dysfunction of thyroid function during AITD.

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