Hot and Bothered
A Case of Endocrine Disease
This interrupted case study is a story about Carrie and her infant daughter Hayden who share similar symptoms: weight loss, metabolic abnormalities, and endocrine glands that just won't quit - as well as autoimmune complications. Students will eventually determine that Graves disease is the underlying condition; however, the point of the story is less about the diagnosis and more about understanding the complex interplay of receptor, ligand, and feedback loops as well as how this interplay is complicated by receptor-based autoimmunity. Students interpret some simplified lab results and tie them to their physiological consequences. They also gain a deeper understanding of how maternally produced antibodies can cause problems for a child before and/or after birth. Although designed for an upper division immunology class, this case also could be used in a human physiology or pathophysiology classroom.
- Compose a simple hormone feedback loop between the pituitary and the thyroid glands and understand how it functions to maintain homeostasis.
- Determine how an autoimmune disease against cell surface receptors (such as Grave’s disease) can interfere with feedback loops to cause pathology.
- Gain more experience interpreting data and linking test results to physiological consequences.
- Understand how maternally produced antibodies (usually considered a benefit) can cause problems for a child before and/or after birth.
KeywordsImmunology; pituitary; thyroid; autoimmunity; antibody; receptor; pathophysiology; hypersensitivity; Grave’s disease; Graves disease
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Physiology | Medicine (General) | Microbiology |
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