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Persistent thyroid autoimmunity after subacute thyroiditis

, : Persistent thyroid autoimmunity after subacute thyroiditis. Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Immunology 23(1): 1-6

Subacute (de Quervain's) thyroiditis (SAT) is accompanied by temporary abnormalities in thyroid function and, in a minority of patients, by transient thyroglobulin and thyroid microsome autoantibody formation. In this report we have examined the sera of patients with SAT for the presence of multiple thyroid autoantibodies using qualitative immunoblotting (Western blotting). For this purpose we used a crude thyroid extract (2,000 g supernatant) as a source of antigen, in order to identify antibodies reacting with a wide range of potential autoantibodies. Eight of the 9 patients tested had autoantibodies which reacted with between 2-18 antigenic determinants (molecular weights 177-10 kd) present in the thyroid antigen preparation. None of the sera reacted with thyroglobulin or thyroid microsomes. The majority of these autoantibodies were directed against antigens which were absent from liver membrane preparations. Furthermore there was no diminution in the levels of these autoantibodies over a period of up to 39 months after the onset of SAT. The prolonged presence of these novel thyroid autoantibodies may explain the recent findings of subtle thyroid defects, such as altered gland iodine content, long after apparent clinical resolution of SAT. The accumulated evidence for a viral aetiology in this condition suggests that these sequelae may be due to a virally-induced autoimmune response.


PMID: 2441062

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