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Hyperthyroidism refers to any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone in the body due to an overactive thyroid gland (American Thyroid Association 2005a). There are several possible options for treating hyperthyroidism. These include antithyroid drugs, beta blockers, radioactive iodine, iodides, and surgery (Reid & Wheeler 2005a).
In the US, two antithyroid medications are being used, propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole, while in Europe and Asia, carbimazole which has a similar action to methimazole, is being used (Fenton 2006a). Carbimazole is converted to methimazole inside the body (Ross 2008a). The three antithyroid medications mentioned belong to the class of compounds known as thionamides and these medications inhibit thyroid hormone biosynthesis by decreasing the oxidation of iodide and iodination of tyrosine (Fenton 2006b). PTU also blocks the conversion of T4 (thyroxine) hormone to the more metabolically active T3 (triiodothyronine) hormone (MedicineNet 2005a).
The chemical IUPAC name of methimazole is 1-methyl-3H-imidazole-2-thione, its chemical formula is C4H6N2S, its average molecular weight is 114.1688 g/mol, its melting point is 146 degrees Celsius, its experimental water solubility is 275g/L, and it has a half life of five to six hours (DrugBank 2007a). The following statements describe the mechanism of action of methimazole:
'Methimazole binds to thyroid peroxidase and thereby inhibits the conversion of iodide to iodine. Thyroid peroxidase normally converts iodide to iodine (via hydrogen peroxide as a cofactor) and also catalyzes the incorporation of the resulting iodide molecule onto both the three and/or five positions of the phenol rings of tyrosines found in thyroglobulin. ...
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