TSH receptor and thyroid-specific gene expression in human skin

Francesca Cianfarani, Enke Baldini, Antonella Cavalli, Enrico Marchioni, Luigi Lembo, Massimo Teson, Severino Persechino, Giovanna Zambruno, Salvatore Ulisse, Teresa Odorisio, Massimino D'Armiento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental evidence suggests that in autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs) the skin is a target of autoantibodies against thyroid-specific antigens; however, the role of these autoantibodies in skin alterations remains unclear. To gain insight into the function of nominally thyroid-specific genes in skin, we analyzed the expression of thyroid-stimulating hormone-receptor (TSH-R), thyroglobulin (Tg), sodium iodide symporter (NIS), and thyroperoxidase (TPO) genes in normal human skin biopsies and cultured primary keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. The results revealed the presence of all the transcripts in skin biopsies. However, in keratinocytes and fibroblasts, only TSH-R messenger RNA was always detected. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses of skin specimens confirmed the presence of TSH-R protein in keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Moreover, TSH treatment induced the proliferation of cultured keratinocytes and fibroblasts and increased keratinocyte intracellular cAMP. Finally, affinity-purified IgGs from serum of patients affected by Graves disease, but not by chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, stimulated cAMP accumulation in cultured keratinocytes, as well as their proliferation. In conclusion, the expression of thyroid-specific genes in cultured keratinocytes and fibroblasts and the mitogenic effects of TSH and IgGs on these cells support the concept that autoantibodies against thyroid-specific antigens may contribute to cutaneous symptoms in AITDs.JID JOURNAL CLUB ARTICLE: For questions, answers, and open discussion about this article, please go to http://network.nature.com/group/jidclub

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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