Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Graves' Disease Attacks The Eyes: Study Uncovers Clues

Date:
March 2, 2007
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
UCLA researchers have uncovered new clues that may explain why Graves' disease attacks the muscle tissue behind the eyes, often causing them to bulge painfully from their sockets. The findings may deepen understanding of how the autoimmune disorder damages the body and offer a new target for treating the disfiguring disease.

UCLA researchers have uncovered new clues that may explain why Graves' disease (GD) attacks the muscle tissue behind the eyes, often causing them to bulge painfully from their sockets, as in the late actor Marty Feldman.

Scientists at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center discovered defects in the infection-fighting T-cells of GD patients' immune systems. Reported March 1 in the Journal of Immunology, their study may deepen understanding of how the autoimmune disorder damages the body and offer a new target for treating the disfiguring disease.

Earlier research found that GD patients' immune systems produce an antibody that other people do not. Not recognizing the patient's thyroid as "self," the antibody mistakenly mounts an attack against the organ, causing inflammation and damage to the body, including eye tissue.

In the current study, UCLA researchers discovered that T-cells taken from GD patients contain an abnormal surplus of the receptor targeted by this antibody. An antibody must latch to a specific receptor -- like a key into a lock -- in order to elicit a cellular response. The receptors mobbed the patients' immune systems, even on T-cells that normally would not produce them.

"We didn't know why GD patients' cells created a new antibody, but had a hunch that that it sprang from an immune abnormality," explained Dr. Raymond Douglas, first author and assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute. "Because T-cells are the generals of the immune system and lead the attack in any immune response, we assumed that they played a key role in this antibody's development."

The team tested GD patients' blood for the antibody and compared their findings to samples from healthy people, with about 100 subjects in each group. The new antibody was found in almost all of the GD patients' blood.

The new antibody binds to the excess receptors on the T-cells, mimicking the actions of a hormone called IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1. Similar to insulin, IGF-1 stimulates cell growth while suppressing normal cell death. The team suspects that this mechanism prolongs the survival of older T-cells, causing a cascade of autoimmune problems that spur the body to attack its own tissue.

"We think that the extra receptors allow the new antibody and IGF-1 to disrupt the programming of the T-cells," said principal investigator Dr. Terry Smith, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and chief of molecular medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

"The antibody provokes the receptor to signal the T-cell to grow and multiply -- long after the cell was programmed to die," he explained. "After two or three generations of this process, we suspect that the high-jacked T-cells mutiny over the normal T-cells, sparking the body's immune reaction against itself."

The next step is to identify what the T-cells are reacting to and how the receptor enables the cells to survive beyond their normal lifespan. The team plans to develop an antibody drug to block the receptor from interacting with the T-cells and slow down the disease.

In Graves' disease, the thyroid gland goes into overdrive, producing excess levels of hormone that attack the tissue behind the eye, causing them to protrude. In extreme cases, patients experience trouble closing their eyelids, severe double vision, corneal scarring, optic nerve damage and even blindness.

Graves' disease is nine times more common in women than men. The disorder most often strikes during the childbearing years, and runs an average course of one to two years. No cure exists, though surgery can be done at the end stage to correct disfigurement.

Dr. Andrew Gianoukakis, assistant professor of endocrinology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, was a coauthor of the study, which received funding from the National Eye Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, American Thyroid Association and Bell Charitable Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Why Graves' Disease Attacks The Eyes: Study Uncovers Clues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301081947.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2007, March 2). Why Graves' Disease Attacks The Eyes: Study Uncovers Clues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301081947.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Why Graves' Disease Attacks The Eyes: Study Uncovers Clues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301081947.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins