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Autoimmune Diseases
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 236981, 9 pages
Review Article

Genetic Factors of Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases in Japanese

Division of Diabetes, Metabolism, and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Showa University School of Medicine, 1-5-8 Hatanodai, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8666, Japan

Received 20 September 2011; Revised 31 October 2011; Accepted 31 October 2011

Academic Editor: Juan-Manuel Anaya

Copyright © 2012 Yoshiyuki Ban. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs), including Graves’ disease (GD) and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT), are caused by immune response to self-thyroid antigens and affect approximately 2–5% of the general population. Genetic susceptibility in combination with external factors, such as smoking, viral/bacterial infection, and chemicals, is believed to initiate the autoimmune response against thyroid antigens. Abundant epidemiological data, including family and twin studies, point to a strong genetic influence on the development of AITDs. Various techniques have been employed to identify genes contributing to the etiology of AITDs, including candidate gene analysis and whole genome screening. These studies have enabled the identification of several loci (genetic regions) that are linked to AITDs, and, in some of these loci, putative AITD susceptibility genes have been identified. Some of these genes/loci are unique to GD and HT and some are common to both diseases, indicating that there is a shared genetic susceptibility to GD and HT. Known AITD-susceptibility genes are classified into three groups: HLA genes, non-HLA immune-regulatory genes (e.g., CTLA-4, PTPN22, and CD40), and thyroid-specific genes (e.g., TSHR and Tg). In this paper, we will summarize the latest findings on AITD susceptibility genes in Japanese.