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LC Hofbauer and AE Heufelder

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LC Hofbauer and AE Heufelder

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GE Krassas and AE Heufelder

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a debilitating disease impairing the quality of life of affected patients. Treatment is often not satisfactory. This review summarizes the existing literature and discusses the most widely used forms of treatment for TED such as glucocorticoids (GCs), and other immunosuppressive agents. GCs are the most commonly used treatment in patients with TED. Other immunosuppressive agents such as cyclosporin A, azathioprin, cyclophosphamide and ciamexone have been used, but the results are modest at best and indicate an unfavorable benefit-risk relationship. Limited experience indicates that methotrexate may be effective even in patients with refractory TED. Somatostatin analogs, octreotide and lanreotide, may provide a valuable, although costly, therapeutic alternative to GCs. Orbital radiotherapy has been used in the management of TED for almost 60 years. However, its beneficial effects have been questioned recently by several studies, the details of which have not yet been published. Other studies have argued in favor of orbital radiotherapy; however, the benefits appear to be limited to improvement of extraocular muscle dysfunction.

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T Muhlberg, M Kirchberger, C Spitzweg, F Herrmann, HJ Heberling and AE Heufelder

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether the A2-type IL-1RA polymorphism is associated with Graves' disease and Graves' ophthalmopathy. Several reports have described a genetic association between the A2 allele of the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) gene and certain inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, suggesting that certain loci within the IL-1-related genes may modulate the autoimmune inflammatory response. Recently, we demonstrated marked differences in the expression and regulation of IL-1RA gene and protein between orbital fibroblasts derived from patients with active Graves' ophthalmopathy and healthy individuals. DESIGN: A total of 144 white European patients with Graves' disease were genotyped to compare their IL-1RA A2 allele frequency with that of 174 healthy controls. METHODS: The polymerase chain reaction was used to amplify the pentallelic variable-number tandem-repeat locus in intron 2 of the IL-1RA gene. RESULTS: We found no significant differences in IL-1RA A2 allele frequencies (0.20 and 0.26 respectively) and IL-1RA A2 carriage rates (31% and 40% respectively) between patients with Graves' disease and the control group. Moreover, presence or absence of Graves' ophthalmopathy in patients with Graves' disease was not related to significant differences in IL-1RA A2 allele frequencies and IL-1RA A2 carriage rates. CONCLUSIONS: Our data do not support an association between the IL-1RA A2 allele and Graves' disease or Graves' ophthalmopathy in our study population. Thus the A2-type IL-1RA gene polymorphism does not appear to indicate an increased susceptibility to develop Graves' disease and Graves' ophthalmopathy. Mechanisms unrelated to the IL-1RA A2 allele may be responsible for altered IL-1RA production within the orbital tissues in Graves' ophthalmopathy.

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MF Prummel, A Bakker, WM Wiersinga, L Baldeschi, MP Mourits, P Kendall-Taylor, P Perros, C Neoh, AJ Dickinson, JH Lazarus, CM Lane, AE Heufelder, GJ Kahaly, S Pitz, J Orgiazzi, A Hullo, A Pinchera, C Marcocci, MS Sartini, R Rocchi, M Nardi, GE Krassas and A Halkias

To improve management of patients with Graves' orbitopathy, a multi-center collaborative approach is necessary in order to have large enough sample sizes for meaningful randomized clinical trials. This is hampered by a lack of consensus on how to investigate the eye condition. The European Group on Graves' Orbitopathy aims to overcome this and has designed a preliminary case record form (CRF) to assess Graves' orbitopathy patients. This form was used in this first multi-center study. AIM: To investigate patient characteristics and treatment strategies in 152 new consecutively referred patients with thyroid eye disease seen in nine large European referral centers. METHODS: Newly referred patients with Graves' orbitopathy were included who were seen between September and December 2000. Demographic data and a complete ophthalmological assessment were recorded. RESULTS: One-hundred and fifty-two patients (77% females) were included. Diabetes was present in 9%, and glaucoma or cataract in 14% of patients. Forty percent were current smokers, 9% also had dermopathy, and only 33% reported a positive family history of thyroid disease. Mild eye disease was seen in 40%, moderately severe eye disease was seen in 33% and severe eye disease was seen in 28% of patients. Soft tissue involvement was the most frequent abnormality (seen in 75%), proptosis > or =21 mm was found in 63%, eye motility dysfunction in 49%, keratopathy in 16% and optic nerve involvement was found in 21% of patients. According to the clinical impression, 60% had active eye disease. Immunosuppressive treatment was planned more frequently in active patients (57/86; 66%) than in inactive patients (5/57, 9%; Chi-square 46.16; P<0.02). There were no important differences among the eight centers regarding the severity and the activity of their patients. CONCLUSIONS: In view of the large number of patients recruited in only 4 months, multi-center studies in the eight EUGOGO centers appear to be feasible.