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V Pitsiavas, P Smerdely and SC Boyages

Amiodarone (AMD) is a powerful anti-arrhythmic drug used for the treatment of a wide variety of cardiac arrhythmias and its most striking feature is its high iodine content. Thyroid dysfunction is a limiting side-effect of the drug and both AMD-induced hypothyroidism (AIH) and AMD-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIT) are reported. To examine the hypothesis that altered bioavailability of iodine is a contributing event in the pathogenesis of AIH, we compared the effects of AMD and inorganic iodine in vitro on events involved in the process of thyroid autoregulation. FRTL-5 cells and JP26 CHO cells (transfected with the human TSH receptor) were exposed to AMD or NaI in the presence of TSH, and cAMP production was measured as an indicator of cellular function. Forskolin and cholera toxin were also used to determine the possible target sites of AMD and iodide. Our results indicated that there was a difference between the effects of AMD versus those of physiological doses of iodide. The inhibitory effects of AMD occurred at lower concentrations of iodide than those seen in the NaI-treated cells. The effects of AMD were irreversible indicating a possible persistence of the Wolff-Chaikoff effect due to a constant high intracellular iodide level. The inhibitory effects of AMD (also seen at supraphysiological doses of iodide) were partially overcome by forskolin but not by cholera toxin indicating an effect on TSH receptor interactions with the other signal transduction elements such as G proteins and adenylate cyclase. The persistence of the Wolff-Chaikoff effect through loss of autoregulation may be a mechanism of the observed hypothyroidism in some patients taking AMD. The combined effects of the constant release of iodide together with the drug toxicity may be the mechanism for the observed effects.

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V Pitsiavas, P Smerdely, M Li and SC Boyages

Amiodarone (AMD)-induced toxicity can be a life-threatening complication which limits the use of amiodarone as an anti-arrhythmic agent. The aim of the present study was to determine the nature of AMD toxicity by comparing ultrastructural changes induced by AMD and equivalent amounts of iodide in two animal models, the Wistar and the autoimmune BB/W rat. Rats were divided into control (water), AMD- (30 mg AMD/kg) or iodide-treated (10 mg/kg) groups. Thyroids were removed at 15 weeks and processed for electron microscopy. We found that AMD induced specific ultrastructural changes of thyroid cytotoxicity in both rat models, which were distinct compared with changes induced by excess iodide alone. Specific changes included marked distortion of thyroid architecture, evidence of necrosis and apoptosis, inclusion bodies, lipofuscinogenesis and markedly dilated endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Our data indicate that AMD is directly cytotoxic to the thyroid an effect mediated by disruption of subcellular organelle function. ER dilatation is suggestive that AMD cytotoxicity may be mediated through disruption of the protein sorting pathways leading to a drug-induced form of ER storage disease. The predilection of the thyroid to AMD may be explained by the additive effects of excess iodine and AMD drug toxicity on protein sorting pathways.