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Genetic Predisposition Testing for Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland that triggers overproduction of thyroid hormones. It is more common in women and usually begins after age 20. The thyroid gland releases thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), the hormones which control body metabolism. Balanced metabolism is critical for regulating mood, weight, and mental and physical energy levels.

Signs and symptoms of graves’ disease

Graves\’ disease symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • A fine tremor of your hands or fingers
  • An increase sweating or heat tolerance
  • Weight loss, despite normal food intake
  • Increased appetite
  • Brittle hair
  • Enlargement of your thyroid gland (goitre)
  • Change in menstrual cycles
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Irregular menstrual periods in women
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Bulging eyes
  • Breast enlargement in men (possible)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Double vision

What causes graves’ disease?

Graves’ disease or sometimes called exophthalmic goitre stimulates the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone (Hyperthyroidism).   Other names include:

  • Parry\’s disease
  • Begbie\’s disease
  • Flajani\’s disease

Normally, the production of thyroid hormones is triggered by the presence of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH),that is released by the pituitary gland in the brain. In Graves\’ disease, abnormal antibodies that imitate TSH are released through a malfunction in the body\’s immune system. These false signals prod the thyroid gland to produce, thyroid\’s hormones that exceed the normal requirements.

What triggers the production of these abnormal antibodies  is not known exactly. It seems that heredity is a main factor in determining susceptibility to Graves’ Disease. Women are more prone to acquire the disease than men and onset usually begins at the age of 20. No single gene triggers Graves’ disease. It is assumed to be activated by both genetics and environmental causes, such as stress.

Viral or bacterial infections are suspected triggers for the production of abnormal antibodies that cross-react with the TSH receptors. The bacterium Yersinia Enterocolitica is one example of these.