Anemia in Patients With Resistance to Thyroid Hormoneα: A Role for Thyroid Hormone Receptorαin Human Erythropoiesis

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Abstract

Context:

Patients with resistance to thyroid hormone (TH) α (RTHα) are characterized by growth retardation, macrocephaly, constipation, and abnormal thyroid function tests. In addition, almost all RTHα patients have mild anemia, the pathogenesis of which is unknown. Animal studies suggest an important role for TH and TH receptor (TR)α in erythropoiesis.

Objective:

To investigate whether a defect in TRα affects the maturation of red blood cells in RTHα patients.

Design, Setting, and Patients:

Cultures of primary human erythroid progenitor cells (HEPs), from peripheral blood of RTHα patients (n = 11) harboring different inactivating mutations in TRα (P398R, F397fs406X, C392X, R384H, A382fs388X, A263V, A263S), were compared with healthy controls (n = 11). During differentiation, erythroid cells become smaller, accumulate hemoglobin, and express different cell surface markers. We assessed cell number and cell size, and used cell staining and fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis to monitor maturation at different time points.

Results:

After ˜14 days of ex vivo expansion, both control and patient-derived progenitors differentiated spontaneously. However, RTHα-derived cells differentiated more slowly. During spontaneous differentiation, RTHα-derived HEPs were larger, more positive for c-Kit (a proliferation marker), and less positive for glycophorin A (a differentiation marker). The degree of abnormal spontaneous maturation of RTHα-derived progenitors did not correlate with severity of underlying TRα defect. Both control and RTHα-derived progenitors responded similarly when differentiation was induced. T3 exposure accelerated differentiation of both control- and RTHα patient-derived HEPs.

Conclusions:

Inactivating mutations in human TRα affect the balance between proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells during erythropoiesis, which may contribute to the mild anemia seen in most RTHα patients.

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