Peterson M.E., Livingston P. and Brown R.S.
Although feline hyperthyroidism has become a commonly diagnosed disorder of older cats, the underlying etiology remains unknown. Pathological findings of adenomatous hyperplasia involving both thyroid lobes in most hyperthyroid cats suggests the possibility that feline hyperthyroidism may be similar to human Graves’ disease, which results from high circulating levels of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs). To exclude high circulating levels of TSIs as the cause of feline hyperthyroidism, we measured intracellular concentrations of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) in functioning rat thyroid cells (FRTL-5) incubated with IgG extracted from hyperthyroid cat serum. Since TSIs stimulate thyroid hormone secretion through activation of cAMP, their presence can be evidenced in vitro by generation of high cAMP concentrations in cultured thyroid cells. No significant difference was found in intracellular cAMP concentrations in FRTL-5 cells incubated with IgG from normal versus hyperthyroid cats. In contrast, IgG from a human patient with Graves’ disease caused substantially more cAMP generation than either normal human IgG or IgG from the cats of this study. These results indicate that feline hyperthyroidism does not result from high circulating concentrations of TSI and, in that respect, is not analogous to Graves’ disease.