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Evidence for an active immune response in acute hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease)

, : Evidence for an active immune response in acute hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease). American Journal of the Medical Sciences 272(3): 269-276

Activated lymphocytes, identified by an autoradiographic labeling method, were found to be present in the peripheral blood of the majority of 20 patients with acute hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease). The number of such cells in the blood was significantly greater than that found in 30 healthy controls (p less than 0.00001), and in 13 patients who had previously suffered from acute hyperthyroidism, and who were judged to be euthyroid following therapy (p less than 0.025). This latter group included two patients in whom such activated lymphocytes had been found in the blood during the acute phase of their illness. Furthermore, there were significant differences between the number of such activated circulating lymphocytes in the group of patients with acute hyperthyroidism and five patients suffering from hyperthyroidism due to a toxic thyroid nodule (p less than 0.001), five patients suffering from primary myxedema (p less than 0.001), or in 14 patients with a nontoxic multinodular goiter (p less than 0.05). Identification and counting of circulating T and B lymphocytes by fluorescent immunolabeling and rosette-forming techniques in a small number of the patients with acute hyperthyroidism failed to reveal significant differences from the normal. The results suggest that in acute hyperthyroidism there is active stimulation of the cellular immune system, and that this effect is specific to the early, untreated phase of the disease. This response is different to other thyroid diseases, including hyperthyroidism due to a toxic thyroid nodule.


PMID: 65127

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