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Intrathyroidal lymphocytic infiltration is followed by a gradual destruction of the thyroid gland which may lead to subclinical or overt hypothyroidism. Although exact mechanisms of aetiology and pathogenesis of the disorder are not completely understood, a strong genetic susceptibility to the disease has been confirmed predominantly by family and twin studies.

Several genes were shown to be associated with the disease occurrence, progression, and severity. Genes for human leukocyte antigen, cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4, protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor-type 22, thyroglobulin, vitamin D receptor, and cytokines are considered to be of utmost importance.

Amongst endogenous factors for the disease development, the attention is focused predominantly on female sex, pregnancy with postpartum period and fetal microchimerism. Environmental factors influencing HT development are iodine intake, drugs, infections and different chemicals. Disturbed self-tolerance accompanied by the increased antigen presentation is a prerequisite for the HT occurrence, whereas proper interaction of thyroid cells, antigen presenting cells, and T cells are necessary for the initiation of thyroid autoimmunity.

Secreted cytokines lead predominantly to T-helper type 1 Th1 response as well as to Looking for sex wan sa hka le 17 response which has only recently been implicated. Final outcome of HT is thyroid destruction which is mostly a consequence of the apoptotic processes combined with T-cell mediated cytotoxicity.

Patients may or may not develop a goitre.

TPO antigen, located at the apical membrane of the thyrocyte, is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis, catalysis of iodine oxidation, iodination of tyrosine residues in Tg and coupling of the iodothyrosines into thyroxine T 4 and triiodothyronine T 3.

The thyroid hormones are synthesized on Tg, a large glycoprotein within thyroid follicles, which also serves as the storage for thyroid hormones [ 1 ].


Small amount of Tg is secreted into the circulation where the estimated half-life is approximately 3 days [ 2 ]. Unlike TgAbs, TPOAbs can activate complement and are able to cause damage to thyroid cells due to antibody dependent cell cytotoxicity [ 3 ].

Nevertheless, there is little evidence that both antibodies have a prime role in the pathogenesis of HT and it is far more likely that both T-cell mediated cytotoxicity and activation of apoptotic pathways influence the disease outcome. However, TAbs serve as a useful marker for the diagnosis of thyroid autoimmunity.

The prevalence of HT confirmed by cytology was Beside lymphoid follicles, changes in epithelial cells, formation of connective tissue, and diffuse round cell infiltration, in his report Hashimoto described also some cracking spaces close to lymphoid follicles. It is now known that these cracking spaces are mainly lymphatic vessels, localized within the interlobular septa.


Their increases within the thyroid parenchyma near the lymphoid follicles [ 5 ]. The clinical disease may present with a variety of different manifestations ranging from a simple TAbs presence in patients with normal thyroid function to the development of severe thyroid dysfunction.


Some patients present with short periods of mild thyrotoxicosis which usually cease spontaneously. The prevalence of TAbs in females was twice as high as in males.


It increased with age and was ificantly higher in whites or Japanese than in blacks or Mexican Americans [ 811 ]. In spite of a very high HT prevalence, the exact mechanisms responsible for the disease development are still not completely understood. In this review we discuss the current evidence of the possible triggers provoking HT in susceptible individuals and putative mechanisms leading to thyroid destruction in HT patients. For several decades a strong genetic predisposition to autoimmune thyroid disease has been recognised, predominantly on the basis of the family and twin studies.

The sibling risk ratio for HT, calculated on the basis of the data from the NHANES III study, was 28, thus confirming the highly ificant contribution of genetic factors to the disease development [ 18 ]. Recent data from Germany also indicate fold increased risk for developing HT in children and fold increased risk in siblings of patients with HT, with females being ificantly more often affected than males [ 19 ]. Twin studies provided further valuable data on the genetic contribution to thyroid autoimmunity.

Moreover, a recent twin study indicated that the liability to the production looking for sex wan sa hka le antibodies directed against immunodominant region A of TPO is genetically determined [ 24 ]. The first gene locus identified in association with the autoimmune thyroid disease was major histocompatibility complex MHC region on the chromosome 6p21 which encodes human leukocyte antigens HLAs. HLA region, which is highly polymorphic, comprises several immune response genes. HLA molecule, located on antigen presenting cell APCbinds and presents an antigenic peptide and in this way enables T cell recognition and response to an antigen.

Presumably, specific HLA alleles have a higher affinity for autoantigenic thyroidal peptides and are thus likely to contribute to the development of the autoimmune thyroid disease. Nevertheless, in order to initiate the thyroid autoimmunity autoantigen occurrence within thyroid or thyroid draining lymph nodes is needed, being followed by HLA presentation. Presumably, such thyrocytes may act as APCs capable of presenting the thyroid autoantigens and initiating autoimmune thyroid disease [ 25 ].

CTLA-4 gene, which is the second major immune-regulatory gene related to autoimmune thyroid disease, lies on chromosome 2q The expression of CTLA-4 on the surface of T cells, induced by the activation of the T-cell receptor, in suppression of T-cell activation.

CTLA-4 gene polymorphisms may reduce expression or function of the CTLA-4 antigen and may therefore contribute to the reduced inhibition of T-cell proliferation and subsequently increase susceptibility to autoimmune response.

Initial observation of the association with HT [ 4344 ] was not confirmed by later studies, including ours [ 4145 ], however, the of the meta-analysis, based on six published and unpublished studies of HT patients, indicated a ificant association with CT60 SNP summary OR 1. Nevertheless, the exact mechanism conferring the susceptibility to HT has not been elucidated looking for sex wan sa hka le and further studies are needed to determine which CTLA-4 polymorphism is causative. A decade ago, a linkage of the CTLA-4 region to the presence of TAbs was demonstrated by a whole genome linkage analysis [ 46 ] and subsequently, CTLA-4 was confirmed as a main locus for TAb status also in a larger data set [ 4748 ].

PTPN22 is the most recently identified immune-regulatory gene associated with the autoimmune thyroid disease, which is located on chromosome 1p The mechanism is not clear since the disease predisposing T allele has been demonstrated to enable even more efficient inhibition of T-cell activation. Presumably, weaker T-cell alling may lead to impaired thymic deletion of autoreactive T cells or an increased PTPN22 function may result in inhibition of regulatory T cells Tregswhich protect against autoimmunity [ 51 ].

Afterwards, this observation was neither confirmed in German, Tunisian and Japanese populations [ 53 - 55 ] nor in Slovenian patients included in our study unpublished data. As discussed ly, Tg is an important thyroid specific antigen, also present in the circulation, which makes it an easy target of the autoimmune response. Gene for Tg is located on the chromosome 8q24 and linkage of this region with HT and autoimmune thyroid disease was first identified by a Japanese and an American whole genome studies [ 5960 ].


A subsequent fine mapping of this region exposed Tg gene as one of the major thyroid specific susceptibility genes, linked and associated with the autoimmune thyroid disease [ 61 ]. Later, different alleles of various microsatellite markers and different SNPs of Tg gene were related to HT, possibly affecting its expression, antigenicity, iodination, or binding to HLA.

The association of Tgms2 microsatellite marker in intron 27 with HT was confirmed in Japanese [ 62 ] as well as in Caucasian population [ 63 ].


However, this observation was neither confirmed in a larger data set of the United Kingdom Caucasian patients [ 65 ] nor in Chinese population, although in the later study one haplotype was ificantly associated with HT and TgAb positivity [ 66 ]. Vitamin D, which acts via vitamin D receptor VDRpossesses immunomodulatory properties and its deficiency has been implicated in the development of autoimmune diseases.

Many immune cells express VDR, dendritic cells in particular, where VDR stimulation has been shown to enhance their tolerogenicity.

Associated data

Tolerogenic dendritic cells promote development of Tregs with suppressive activity and therefore peripheral tolerance [ 67 ]. A ificant relation has also been discovered between HT and both promoter and intron 6 gene polymorphisms of CYP27B1 hydroxylase, which is located on chromosome 12q13, catalysing the conversion of 25 hydroxyvitamin D 3 to its active form [ 71 ].

Lately, looking for sex wan sa hka le genes encoding different inflammatory cytokines have been studied in HT, some of them also influencing the severity of the disease. As indicated by numerous epidemiological studies, females present with positive TAbs up to three times more often than males [ 781177 - 81 ].

The possible explanation for high female predominance in thyroid autoimmunity might be associated with the X chromosome containing a of sex and immune-related genes which are of key importance in the preservation of immune tolerance [ 82 ]. Increased immunoreactivity might therefore be related to genetic defects of the X chromosome, such as structural abnormalities or monosomy. Another potential mechanism of impaired immunotolerance in females is skewed X-chromosome inactivation XCI leading to the escape of X-linked self-antigens from presentation in thymus with subsequent loss of T-cell tolerance.


Skewed XCI was associated with a higher risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases. Furthermore, a study of Danish twins demonstrated a ificant association of skewed XCI with TPOAb serum concentrations in dizygotic but not in monozygotic twin pairs, indicating that shared genetic determinants of XCI pattern and TPOAb production are more likely than causal relationship [ 89 ].

The tolerance of the fetal semi-allograft during pregnancy is enabled by the state of immunosuppression which is a result of hormonal changes and trophoblast expression of key immunomodulatory molecules. The pivotal players in regulation of the immune response are Tregs, which rapidly increase during pregnancy. Consequently, both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses are attenuated with a shift towards humoral immune response, resulting in immune tolerance of the conceptus tissues and suppression of autoimmunity [ 9091 ].

Accordingly, the decrease of both TPOAb and TgAb concentrations during pregnancy has been reported, reaching the lowest values in the third trimester [ 91 - 94 ]. Postpartum rapid decrease of Tregs and re-establishment of the immune response to the pre-pregnancy state may lead to the occurrence or aggravation of the autoimmune thyroid disease [ 91 ]. The increase of TPOAb concentrations occurred as soon as 6 weeks after delivery [ 94 ], reaching the baseline level at approximately 12 weeks and the maximum level at about 20 weeks after delivery [ 9293 ].


The term fetal microchimerism is defined by the presence of fetal cells in maternal tissues which are transferred in the maternal circulation during pregnancy. Several years after the delivery, the chimeric male cells can be detected in the maternal peripheral blood [ 9798 ] as well as in maternal tissues, such as thyroid, lung, skin, or lymph nodes [ 99 ].

The fetal immune cells, settled in the maternal thyroid gland, may become activated in the postpartum period when the immunotolerance ceases, representing a possible trigger that may initiate or exaggerate the autoimmune thyroid disease. Furthermore, a recent study of twins supported the putative role of microchimerism in triggering thyroid autoimmunity, showing a ificantly higher prevalence of TAbs in opposite sex twins compared to monozygotic twins [ ].

Additionally, euthyroid females having been pregnant presented ificantly more often with positive TPOAb compared to females with no history of being pregnant [ ]. However, the relation between parity and autoimmune thyroid disease was not confirmed by large population-based studies, advocating against the essential contribution of fetal microchimerism to the pathogenesis of autoimmune thyroid disease [ - ].

Excessive iodine intake is well-established environmental factor for triggering thyroid autoimmunity. Moreover, up to four-fold increase in prevalence of TAbs was demonstrated after the exposure to higher iodine intake due to the improvement of iodine prophylaxis in ly iodine deficient areas [ - ]. Valuable evidence was also provided by using experimental animal models of autoimmune thyroiditis, where the prevalence and severity of thyroid autoimmunity ificantly increased when the dietary iodine was added [ ].


Several putative mechanisms by which iodine may promote thyroid autoimmunity have been proposed. Firstly, iodine exposure le to higher iodination of Tg and thus increases its immunogenicity by creating novel iodine-containing epitopes or exposing cryptic epitopes.

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This may facilitate presentation by APC and enhance the binding affinity of the T-cell receptor which may lead to specific T-cell activation [ ]. Secondly, iodine exposure has been shown to increase the level of reactive oxygen species in the thyrocyte which is generated during TPO oxidation of excessive amounts of iodine. They enhance the expression of the intracellular adhesion molecule-1 ICAM-1 on the thyroid follicular cells which could attract the immunocompetent cells into the thyroid gland [ ].

Thirdly, iodine toxicity to thyrocytes has been reported, since highly reactive oxygen species may bind to membrane lipids and proteins, causing thyrocyte damage and release of autoantigens [ ]. Fourthly, iodine excess has been shown to promote follicular cell apoptosis by inducing an abnormal expression of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand TRAIL and its death receptor DR -5 in thyroid [ ]. Fifthly, in vitro evidence also suggests an enhancing influence of iodine on the cells of the immune system, including augmented maturation of dendritic cells, looking for sex wan sa hka le of T cells and stimulated B-cell immunoglobulin production [ ].

Furthermore, certain drugs were reported to trigger or exacerbate thyroid autoimmunity in susceptible individuals.


Similarly, IL-2 treatment, used for melanoma and renal carcinoma, seems to act via immune and toxic mechanisms, leading to both TAb positivity and hypothyroidism [ ]. In patients with known autoimmune thyroid disease lithium may increase the risk of hypothyroidism. According to some studies, treatment with lithium has also been shown to increase TAb titres and the prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity, although this observation has not yet been confirmed by other reports [].

Among putative mechanisms direct toxicity of lithium on thyroid or toxicity of increased intrathyroidal iodine resulting from lithium treatment were discussed [ ]. Similarly, amiodarone alone as well as its high iodine content may act cytotoxically which may lead to thyroid autoantigen presentation and provoke thyroid autoimmunity [ ]. Among possible mechanisms, the molecular mimicry between viral and self-antigens has been suggested, whereas the release of pro-inflammatory mediators caused by viral infection may lead to activation of autoreactive T-cells [ ].