Relation of anti-TPO autoantibody titre and T-lymphocyte cytokine production patterns in Hashimoto's thyroiditis.Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2005 Aug; 63(2):191-6.CE
Cytokines produced by cytotoxic T cells or autoantibodies lead to thyroid cell damage and/or cell death in Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT). Anti-TPO autoantibodies (TPOAb) are the most frequently represented autoantibodies in the sera of patients with HT. Data describing the quantitative correlation between TPOAb titre and cytokine pattern are missing so far. To our knowledge this is the first study systematically evaluating the correlation of possible parameters of disease activity such as changes in CD4 and CD8 T-cell cytokine production and of TPOAb titre.
Twenty-four consecutive patients (aged 29-58) with verified HT under levothyroxine therapy were included in the present study. The patients were divided into two groups. Group I: 12 HT patients with a high TPOAb titre (> 1000 U/ml), group II: 12 HT patients with a low TPOAb titre (< 100 U/ml). All patients underwent intracellular cytokine detection in CD4 and CD8 T cells of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by flow cytometry. Twelve healthy volunteers matched in sex and age consisted the control group (group III).
T cells from patients with a high TPOAb titre (group I) had significantly higher percentages of cells producing IFN-gamma compared to healthy donors (group III). A detailed analysis of cytokine production patterns revealed that this was accompanied by an increased frequency of single IFN-gamma positive cells, i.e. cells not expressing other cytokines tested, such as IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13 or TNF-beta. Similarly, patients in group I also showed higher percentages of TNF-alpha positive cells than healthy donors (group III). In this case, cells expressing TNF-alpha alone as well as cells coexpressing TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma were found at significantly higher frequencies. On the other hand, cytokine production patterns of patients with a low TPOAb titre (group II) showed significant difference neither to patients of group I nor to healthy donors (group III).
Taken together, we were able for the first time to demonstrate that high TPOAb titre correlates with increased frequencies of T cells producing Th/Tc1 cytokines, probably responsible for thyroid cell damage and/or death in Hashimoto's thyroiditis.