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Evaluation of immunological mechanisms mediating thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy by radionuclide imaging using the somatostatin analog 111In-octreotide

Evaluation of immunological mechanisms mediating thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy by radionuclide imaging using the somatostatin analog 111In-octreotide

Thyroid 7(1): 21-29

Thyroid associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) is a disorder involving the soft tissues and extraocular muscles of the orbit seen mainly in cases of Graves' disease. Although an immunogenic pathogenesis has been proposed, the actual mechanisms of the in vivo retrobulbar involvement are not well defined. The recent introduction of the 111In-labeled somatostatin analog, octreotide, which can bind in vivo to the cell membrane of activated lymphocytes expressing somatostatin receptors, has provided a new investigational tool for diseases with a presumed immunological background. Based on this property, octreotide scans can be expected to be positive in cases of immunological disease showing tracer accumulation within affected sites. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of scintigraphic imaging with octreotide of the retrobulbar space in cases of TAO, including sequential studies of patients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. We studied a series of 51 patients who had Graves' disease with varying degrees of TAO. Nine patients had received immunosuppressive therapy. The degree of orbital inflammation was classified according to the clinical activity score of Mourits. Both planar and tomographic imaging of the orbit were carried out using 111 MBq of the 111In-labeled octreotide (OctreoScan) 2 h after tracer injection. A significant tracer accumulation in the retrobulbar space was seen in all 20 patients with a high activity score, in 8 of 16 cases with a negative score, and in 11 of 20 cases with an intermediate Mourits' score. In cases of persistent eye disease in spite of immunosuppressive therapy, the octreotide scan remained positive. Successful therapy either with prednisolone, external radiation, or i.v. immunoglobulins showed a significant diminution of tracer uptake after finishing the therapeutic regime. Three-dimensional reconstruction of the images also revealed a significant tracer accumulation in the areas of the lacrimal gland, the nasal region, and the pituitary. Controls cases (n = 30) showed no uptake in the orbital region. We conclude that 111In octreotide scintigraphy is an objective method that identifies patients with active inflammatory eye disease, i.e., having significant tracer uptake in the retrobulbar space. This uptake appears to reflect an immunological process, since immunosuppressive therapy will significantly decrease tracer accumulation.

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Accession: 046010506

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 9086565

DOI: 10.1089/thy.1997.7.21

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