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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Oct;90(10):5704-10. Epub 2005 Aug 2.

Human T cell leukemia virus type I-infected patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Virology and Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Okinawa, 903-0215, Japan.



Autoimmune thyroid diseases have been reported to be associated with human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) infection. HTLV-I proviral load is related to the development of HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis and has also been shown to be elevated in the peripheral blood of HTLV-I-infected patients with uveitis, arthritis, and connective tissue disease.


The objective of the study was to evaluate the proviral load in HTLV-I-infected patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) or Graves' disease (GD) and ascertain the ability of HTLV-I to infect thyroid cells.


A quantitative real-time PCR assay was developed to measure the proviral load of HTLV-I in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 26 HTLV-I-infected patients with HT, eight HTLV-I-infected patients with GD, or 38 asymptomatic HTLV-I carriers. Rat FRTL-5 thyroid cells were cocultured with HTLV-I-infected T cell line MT-2 or uninfected T cell line CCRF-CEM. After coculture with T cell lines, changes in Tax and cytokine mRNA expression were studied by RT-PCR.


HTLV-I proviral load was significantly higher in the peripheral blood of patients with HT and GD than asymptomatic HTLV-I carriers. In the peripheral blood from HTLV-I-infected patients with HT, HTLV-I proviral load did not correlate with the thyroid peroxidase antibody or thyroglobulin antibody titer. After coculture with MT-2 cells, FRTL-5 cells expressed HTLV-I-specific Tax mRNA. These cocultured FRTL-5 cells with MT-2 cells expressed IL-6 mRNA and proliferated more actively than those cocultured with CCRF-CEM cells.


Our findings suggest the role of the retrovirus in the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases in HTLV-I-infected patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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