Cytokines and thyroid autoimmunity

S. Mariotti, G. F. Del Prete, L. Chiovato, C. Mastromauro, C. Marcocci, M. De Carli, S. Romagnani, M. Ricci, A. Pinchera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytokines may play important roles in the development and perpetuation of autoimmunity. In this paper are briefly reviewed selected data on the relationship between cytokines and thyroid autoimmune diseases (AITD), which represent a typical example of organ-specific autoimmune endocrinopathy. The availability of high efficiency T-cell cloning techniques recently allowed the phenotipic and functional characterization of T lymphocytes derived from thyroid infiltrates of patients with Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A high prevalence of T cell clones with cytolytic potential and displaying increased γ-interferon production was observed in both diseases; in contrast, high tumor necrosis factor-α secretion was a peculiar characteristic of T-cell clones derived only from Hashimoto's infiltrates. The production of IL-4 by CD4 + T cell clones from AITD infiltrates was remarkably low, suggesting a quite homogeneous population of Thl-type 'inflammatory' T cells. This pattern of cytokine production by thyroid infiltrates may be important not only in triggering and/or maintaining thyroid autoimmune reaction, but could also modulate the expression of AITD by exerting direct functional effects on thyroid epithelial cells, as suggested by recent in vitro studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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