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J Pathol. 1999 Aug;188(4):415-22.

Immunohistochemical expression of growth factors in subacute thyroiditis and their effects on thyroid folliculogenesis and angiogenesis in collagen gel matrix culture.

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Department of Pathology, Saga Medical School, Saga 849-8501, Japan.


The inflammatory-mechanistic basis of subacute thyroiditis remains unclear. To elucidate the roles of vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF), transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) in the inflammatory process, their immunoexpression was examined in biopsy specimens of ten cases. At the granulomatous stage, all cases expressed VEGF, bFGF, PDGF, and TGF-beta1 in monocytes/macrophages infiltrating into follicle lumina, and in both epithelioid histiocytes and multinucleated giant cells of the granulomas. In fibroblasts and endothelial cells around the granulomas, all cases displayed VEGF, bFGF, and PDGF, but TGF-beta1 was detected only in fibroblasts in two cases. No cases expressed EGF in any of the above cell types. At the regenerative stage, all cases expressed VEGF, bFGF, and EGF in regenerating thyrocytes, whereas three and no cases displayed PDGF and TGF-beta1, respectively. Ten, seven and six cases expressed PDGF in fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and monocytes, respectively. In these cell types, all cases expressed VEGF and bFGF, whereas no cases displayed TGF-beta1 and EGF. To estimate the roles of these growth factors in thyroid tissue regeneration, their effects on thyroid folliculogenesis and angiogenesis were examined using collagen gel culture of thyrocytes and endothelial cells, respectively. Cell proliferation was also studied by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) uptake. EGF decreased follicle formation and TGF-beta1 drastically inhibited it, but the others had no effect. VEGF showed the greatest effect on vessel formation, although all of the others promoted it. EGF and VEGF or bFGF caused the highest BrdU uptake in thyrocytes and endothelial cells, respectively. The data suggest firstly, that at the granulomatous stage of subacute thyroiditis, growth factor-rich monocytes/macrophages infiltrating into follicle lumina trigger the granulomatous reaction, and VEGF, bFGF, PDGF, and TGF-beta1 produced by the stromal cell types tested mediate the reaction; secondly, that at the regenerative stage, EGF serves follicle regeneration through its mitogenic effect on thyrocytes, although some cofactors with EGF are involved in folliculogenesis and the decreased expression of TGF-beta1, a fibrogenic factor, contributes to thyroid tissue repair; and thirdly, that VEGF and bFGF are more responsible for the angiogenesis at both stages than the other factors studied.

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