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BioMed Central

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Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling

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Background: Graves’ is disease an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland caused by circulating anti-thyroid receptor antibodies (TRAb) in the serum. TRAb mimics the action of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and stimulates the thyroid hormone receptor (TSHR), which results in hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and goiter. Methimazole (MMI) is used for hyperthyroidism treatment for patients with Graves’ disease.

Methods: We have developed a model using a system of ordinary differential equations for hyperthyroidism treatment with MMI. The model has four state variables, namely concentration of MMI (in mg/L), concentration of free thyroxine - FT4 (in pg/mL), and concentration of TRAb (in U/mL) and the functional size of the thyroid gland (in mL) with thirteen parameters. With a treatment parameter, we simulate the time-course of patients’ progression from hyperthyroidism to euthyroidism (normal condition). We validated the model predictions with data from four patients.

Results: When there is no MMI treatment, there is a unique asymptotically stable hyperthyroid state. After the initiation of MMI treatment, the hyperthyroid state moves towards subclinical hyperthyroidism and then euthyroidism.

Conclusion: We can use the model to describe or test and predict patient treatment schedules. More specifically, we can fit the model to individual patients’ data including loading and maintenance doses and describe the mechanism, hyperthyroidism → euthyroidism. The model can be used to predict when to discontinue the treatment based on FT4 levels within the physiological range, which in turn help maintain the remittance of euthyroidism and avoid relapses of hyperthyroidism. Basically, the model can guide with decision-making on oral intake of MMI based on FT4 levels.


Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 15, No. 1 (January 9, 2018). DOI. © 2018 The Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http:// applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.