06 December 2014
Activation of orbital fibroblasts resulting in excessive proliferation, cytokine and hyaluronan production and differentiation into adipocytes, is a main determinant of orbital tissue inflammation and tissue expansion in Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO). During the last years we have shown that the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) isoforms PDGF-AA, PDGF-AB and PDGF-BB are increased in orbital tissue from GO patients with active and inactive disease. These PDGF isoforms exhibit the capacity to stimulate proliferation, hyaluronan and cytokine/chemokine production by orbital fibroblasts. Moreover, PDGF-AB and PDGF-BB increase thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) expression by orbital fibroblasts, which enhances the orbital fibroblast activating capacity of the THSR stimulatory autoantibodies present in Graves' disease (GD) patients. Of these PDGF isoforms PDGF-BB exhibits the strongest orbital fibroblast activating effects, which is likely related to its ability to bind both the PDGF-receptor (PDGF-R)α and PDGF-Rβ chains. Thus the PDGF-system fulfills important roles in orbital fibroblast activation in both active and inactive GO, which supports a therapeutic rationale for blocking PDGF signaling in GO. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) may be candidates to target PDGF signaling. Of several TKIs tested dasatinib exhibited the highest potency to block PDGF-R signaling in orbital fibroblasts and may represent a promising compound for the treatment of GO as it was effective at low dosage and is associated with less side effects compared to imatinib mesylate and nilotinib. In this review the contribution of PDGF to the pathophysiology of GO as well as therapeutic approaches to target this PDGF-system will be addressed.