Peripheral blood T cell activation after radioiodine treatment for Graves' disease

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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Abstract

Radioiodine therapy for Graves' thyrotoxicosis produces a rise in thyroid autoantibodies in the first three months after treatment, but little is known of its effects on T cells. We have therefore followed the changes in T cell subsets in sequential samples from 23 patients with Graves' disease treated with radioiodine, using dualcolour flow cytometry. In the first month after treatment there was a significant rise in activated T cells, identified by the markers HLA-DR (la) and CDw26/Tal (p<0.025 in both cases). CD45RO-positive T cells, which are the primed population containing memory cells, also increased (p<0.025), but there was no change in CD45R-positive, resting T cells or in the CD4 to CD8 (helper to cytotoxic/suppressor) ration. Vicia villosa-binding T cells, containing the contrasuppressor population, showed a more variable response, but the trend was to an overall increase from pre-treatment values (p<0.025). The changes did not appear to be related to antithyroid drug treatment, since they were seen irrespective of whether patients continued such therapy. These results suggest that T cell activation and enhanced contrasuppressor activity may in part be responsible for the rise in autoantibodies after radioiodine. The T cell changes could also contribute to the worsening of ophthalmopathy seen in some radioiodine-treated patients.

 

     European Society of Endocrinology

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