A microscale method, based on two-colour dye immunolabelling and flow sorting cytofluorometry, was used to characterize lymphocyte subsets in thyroid tissue specimens obtained by fine-needle aspiration (FNA) in 21 patients with autonomously functioning thyroid nodule (AFTN) and five patients with cold thyroid nodule (CTN). Inversion of the ratio between CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, due to a relative increase of CD8+ cells, was found among intrathyroidal lymphocytes in AFTN patients. The abnormal lymphocyte subset distribution was not observed in the peripheral blood of the same group of patients. In patients with CTN the lymphocyte subset distribution was normal, both in the thyroid and in the peripheral blood. In AFTN patients, a significant correlation was observed between the decrease of intrathyroidal CD4+/CD8+ ratio and the increase of plasma thyroid hormone levels. Whether the immunological abnormalities found in AFTN could play a pathogenetic role in the clinical presentation and outcome of the disease remains to be established. The FNA-applied micromethod used in this study could be extended as a routine investigation to characterize the immunogenic substrate of thyroid disorders.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 1990|
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