Serum activin A levels in different thyroid disorders

Paola S. Morpurgo, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Eugenio Reschini, Deborah Mannavola, Stefano Borgato, Leonardo Vicentini, Anna Spada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activin A belongs to the transforming growth factor-β superfamily that exerts a wide range of biologic activities on cellular proliferation and differentiation. Although it was suggested that gonadal tissue is the primary site of activin production, several extragonadal sources have subsequently been identified, including human thyrocytes. The goal of the present study was to evaluate serum activin A levels in a series of patients with different thyroid disorders during the active state of the diseases and after recovery. Serum activin A levels were evaluated in 60 healthy subjects (controls), 8 with multinodular nontoxic goiter (MNG), 30 hyperthyroid (15 with Graves' disease (GD), 12 with autonomous hyperfunctioning adenoma (ATA), and 3 with thyrotropin (TSH)-secreting pituitary adenoma, 16 hypothyroid (11 with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and 5 after total thyroidectomy), and 9 patients with resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH) by commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit. Patients with GD and ATA showed activin A levels higher than those found in controls and similar to those observed in MNG (GD, 0.74 ± 0.3 ng/mL; ATA, 0.86 ± 0.4; and MNG; 1.0 ± 0.2 vs. controls: 0.39 ± 0.5, p <0.001), while in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, total thyroidectomy or RTH activin A levels were similar to those of controls. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that thyroid hyperplasia and hyperfunction result in increased levels of activin A, although the normal levels observed in thyroidectomized patients clearly demonstrate that the thyroid gland is not the predominant source of activin A in normal conditions. Because activin A may exert negative action on thyrocyte proliferation, it is conceivable that activin A hypersecretion in thyroid disorders might represent a counteracting mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1117
Number of pages5
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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