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Clin Exp Immunol. 1994 Dec;98(3):464-9.

IgG subclass distribution of thyroglobulin antibodies in patients with thyroid disease.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205.


The IgG subclass distribution of thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) has been studied in Hashimoto and Graves' patients by several investigators with conflicting results, in part explainable by methodological problems. We have recently developed a quantitative ELISA to measure in absolute terms the serum concentration of TgAb subclasses. The aim of the present study was to apply this method in a large series of patients with autoimmune as well as, for the first time, non-autoimmune thyroid diseases. We examined 28 patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, 30 with Graves' disease, 21 with thyroid carcinoma and 18 with non-toxic goitre, all selected for the presence of TgAbs. The results indicated that TgAbs in thyroid diseases were not restricted to any particular isotype, but comprised all four IgG subclasses. IgG1 was represented similarly in the four groups. The same was true for IgG3, even though its contribution to the total antibody content was very small. IgG4 was the dominant subclass in patients with Graves' disease, thyroid carcinoma and non-toxic goitre, probably reflecting a prolonged antigenic challenge. In Hashimoto's thyroiditis IgG2 was dominant, possibly because T helper lymphocytes infiltrating the thyroid are typically Th1 type.

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