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Eur J Endocrinol. 2006 Feb;154(2):237-41.

Fetal microchimerism in Hashimoto's thyroiditis: a quantitative approach.

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Institute of Legal Medicine, University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale, Germany.



Fetal microchimerism (MCH) has been implicated in the etiology of autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune thyroiditis. The goal of the study was to reliably estimate the number of fetal engrafted cells and to further investigate factors influencing the development of MCH.


Quantitative real-time PCR amplification using Y-chromosome specific (DYS14) and autosomal (beta-globin) loci was performed on thyroid gland specimens. Furthermore, we compared the distribution of ABO and rhesus systems in mothers with and without blood MCH in relation to the blood groups of the children.


MCH was detected in eight of 21 Hashimoto patients in a frequency range of 15 to 4900 male cells per 100,000 total cells (median 97 cells), but in none of 17 healthy thyroid glands. In a third group, consisting of 18 nodular goiters, only one sample was positive (182 male cells/100,000 total cells). No woman who had not had a prior pregnancy with a male fetus showed MCH. Mothers both with and without MCH showed the same rate of mother/child incompatibilities for the ABO and rhesus systems.


The percentage of microchimeric cells varies to a great extent in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and this phenomenon can occur in nodular goiter in rare instances, but it appears to be absent from normal thyroid glands. Nevertheless, the biological significance of MCH remains unclear. Moreover, we have concluded that the tested blood group systems (as opposed to their role in graft vs host disease after transplantations) have no effect on fetal MCH.

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