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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 12 (2005), Issue 1, Pages 47-58

Susceptibility Genes in Thyroid Autoimmunity

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


The autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) are complex diseases which are caused by an interaction between susceptibility genes and environmental triggers. Genetic susceptibility in combination with external factors (e.g. dietary iodine) is believed to initiate the autoimmune response to thyroid antigens. Abundant epidemiological data, including family and twin studies, point to a strong genetic influence on the development of AITD. Various techniques have been employed to identify the genes contributing to the etiology of AITD, including candidate gene analysis and whole genome screening. These studies have enabled the identification of several loci (genetic regions) that are linked with AITD, and in some of these loci, putative AITD susceptibility genes have been identified. Some of these genes/loci are unique to Graves' disease (GD) and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) and some are common to both the diseases, indicating that there is a shared genetic susceptibility to GD and HT. The putative GD and HT susceptibility genes include both immune modifying genes (e.g. HLA, CTLA-4) and thyroid specific genes (e.g. TSHR, Tg). Most likely, these loci interact and their interactions may influence disease phenotype and severity.