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Autoimmunity. 2006 Mar;39(2):93-8.

A reduced IL2R (CD25) expression level in first and second degree female relatives of autoimmune thyroid disease patients. A sign of a poor capability to preserve tolerance?

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Endocrinology, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam Zuidoost, The Netherlands.


There is room for immune markers other than TPO-Abs to identify an increased risk to develop autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD). Our aim was to test the hypothesis that activation of CD4+ T cells is such marker in relatives of AITD patients, who have an increased risk to develop AITD. We established a controlled study on 20 TPO-Ab positive and 20 TPO-Ab negative euthyroid female relatives. All these cases had at least one 1st or 2nd degree relative with a documented autoimmune hyper- or hypothyroidism in whom we studied the percentages of circulating subsets of activated (MHC class-II, CD25 (IL-2R), CD71 or CD69+) CD4+ T cells and the level of the soluble (s)-IL2R in serum. We found that euthyroid female relatives did not show an activation of their T cell system, but a reduced expression of CD25 on CD4+ T cells. The level of the shed IL2R in serum was also lower in comparison with levels found in healthy control females. A reduced T cell activity was found in both TPO-Ab positive and negative relatives. In conclusion, female relatives with at least one 1st or 2nd degree relative with an AITD show signs of a reduced expansion capability of their T cell pool. It is hypothesized that this reduced expansion capability may affect T cell tolerance mechanisms more than T effector mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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