The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor (TSHR) is a major regulator of thyroid function and growth, and is the key antigen in several pathological conditions including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid tumors. Various effective treatment strategies are currently available for many of these clinical conditions such as antithyroid drugs or radioiodine therapy, but they are not devoid of side effects. In addition, treatment of complications of Graves' disease such as Graves' ophthalmopathy is often difficult and unsatisfactory using current methods.
Recent advances in basic research on both in vitro and in vivo models have suggested that TSH analogs could be used for diagnosis and treatment of some of the thyroid diseases. The advent of high-throughput screening methods has resulted in a group of TSH analogs called small molecules, which have the potential to be developed as promising drugs. Small molecules are low molecular weight compounds with agonist, antagonist and, in some cases, inverse agonist activity on TSHR.
This short review will focus on current advances in development of TSH analogs and their potential clinical applications. Rapid advances in this field may lead to the conduct of clinical trials of small molecules related to TSHR for the management of Graves' disease, thyroid cancer, and thyroid-related osteoporosis in the coming years.
CITATION Endocrinol Nutr. 2013 Mar 25. pii: S1575-0922(13)00047-8. doi: 10.1016/j.endonu.2012.12.008.
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