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Human endocrine thyroid epithelial cells have been described to produce cytokines in vitro. In order to determine whether they do so in vivo during thyroiditis, parallel studies on mRNA expression with a non-radioactive in situ hybridization technique and immunohistochemical detection for the protein were performed on frozen sections of thyroid samples from autoimmune thyroiditis (Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis), non-toxic goitre and normal thyroid tissue. cDNA probes were sulphonated and their hybridization with mRNA was detected with a sulphonyl-specific monoclonal antibody. This signal was amplified and visualized with the alkaline phosphatase-anti-alkaline phosphatase (APAAP) system. The protein products were detected with immuno-purified rabbit F(ab')2 antibody fragments recognizing recombinant human cytokines, visualized by the immunoperoxidase technique. Each sample was studied at the two levels. Both interleukin-6 mRNA and protein were found in the endocrine cells. There was no obvious difference between autoimmune thyroiditis and non-toxic goitre. However, normal thyroid epithelial cells produced less interleukin-6. Interleukin-1 alpha mRNA and its protein were found in epithelial cells from Hashimoto's thyroiditis samples, but not in the others, except one Graves' disease sample, in which only mRNA was detected. Interleukin-1 beta was not detected in these cells, its mRNA was only found in one of the Graves' disease samples. These cytokines were also detected in some infiltrating cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date





314 - 319


Epithelium, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Interleukin-1, Interleukin-6, Nucleic Acid Hybridization, RNA, Messenger, Thyroid Gland