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In order to define whether CD4+ T cells from autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid tissue could be classified according to their mediator production, lymphokine production was studied in 63 thyroid-derived CD4+ T-cell clones from four patients with Graves' disease, one with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and one with non-toxic goitre (9-12 clones per patient). The production of interleukin 2 (IL-2), gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), lymphotoxin (LT), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) was assessed at the mRNA level by slot-blot analysis in unstimulated clones as well as after activation with monoclonal anti-CD3 (OKT3) and IL-2. No lymphokine production was found in unstimulated clones, whereas 56% of the clones produced all six lymphokines simultaneously after stimulation. In the remaining 44% usually not more than one lymphokine was missing from the complete panel. Lymphokine mRNA concentrations varied between different clones and different patients, but, in this small sample, not between the diseases from which the clones were originated. There was a significant correlation between IL-6, LT, and IL-2 mRNA levels and T-cell helper function, which was estimated by the stimulation of thyroid microsomal autoantibody production using autologous peripheral B cells. TGF-beta and IFN-gamma mRNA expression was unrelated to T-cell help. The results demonstrate that intrathyroid T cells from autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid disorders cannot be classified according to their lymphokine production, unlike some results with in vitro-induced mouse T-cell clones, where two populations, Th1 and Th2, have been described. Single T cells are capable of producing a whole panel of lymphokines and thus are capable of triggering a multitude of different processes.


Journal article


Scand J Immunol

Publication Date





433 - 440


CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Clone Cells, Goiter, Graves Disease, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Lymphokines, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, Thyroid Gland, Thyroiditis, Autoimmune