Complex immunological mechanisms underlie the pathogenesis of thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO). Historical models of Graves’ disease and TAO have focused almost entirely on autoimmune reactivity directed against the thyrotropin receptor (TSHR). The insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) has been proposed as a second participating antigen in TAO by virtue of its interactions with IGFs and anti-IGF-IR antibodies generated in Graves’ disease. Furthermore, the IGF-IR forms with TSHR a physical and functional complex which is involved in signaling downstream from both receptors. Inhibition of IGF-IR activity results in attenuation of signaling initiated at either receptor. Based on the aggregate of findings implicating IGF-IR in TAO, the receptor has become an attractive therapeutic target. Recently, teprotumumab, a human monoclonal antibody IGF-IR inhibitor was evaluated in two clinical trials of patients with moderate to severe, active TAO. Those studies revealed that teprotumumab was safe and highly effective in reducing disease activity and severity. Targeting IGF-IR with specific biologic agents may result in a paradigm shift in the therapy of TAO.

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Department of Internal Medicine

Janssen, J., & Smith, T. (2021). Lessons Learned from Targeting IGF-I Receptor in Thyroid-Associated Ophthalmopathy. Retrieved from