Lower CD28+ T cell proportions were associated with CMV-seropositivity in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis

Martina Prelog, Jörn Schönlaub, Reinhard Würzner, Christian Koppelstaetter, Giovanni Almanzar, Andrea Brunner, Martin Gasser, Rupert Prommegger, Gabriele Häusler, Klaus Kapelari, Wolfgang Högler

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BACKGROUND: Alterations in the naive T cell subpopulations have been demonstrated in patients with T cell mediated autoimmune disorders, reminiscent of immunological changes found in the elderly during immunosenescence, including the switch from CD45RA + to CD45RO + T cells and decreased thymic function with increased compensatory proliferative mechanisms, partly associated with latent Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. The present study was aimed to investigate proportions of lymphocytes, their relation to CMV-seropositivity and the replicative history of CD45RA + expressing T cells in Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT, n = 18) and healthy controls (HC, n = 70).

METHODS: Proportions of peripheral T cells were investigated by flow cytometry. The replicative history was assessed by T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) and relative telomere length (RTL). Expression of CD62L was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in thyroid sections. The role of CMV was assessed by serology, ELISPOT assay and in situ hybridization.

RESULTS: Our results demonstrated a significant increase of CD28-negative T cells, associated with CMV-seropositivity in HT patients. HT showed abundant CD45RO + T cells with peripheral loss of CD62L-expressing CD8 + CD45RA + T cells, the latter mainly depending on disease duration. CD62L was expressed in thyroid lymphocyte infiltrations. The diagnosis of HT and within the HT group CMV-seropositivity were the main determinants for the loss of CD28 expression. RTL was not different between HC and HT. HT showed significantly lower TRECs in CD4 + CD45RA + T cells compared to HC.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with HT display a peripheral T cell phenotype reminiscent of findings in elderly persons or other autoimmune disorders. Whether these mechanisms are primary or secondary to the immunological alterations of autoimmune conditions should be investigated in longitudinal studies which may open research on new therapeutic regimes for treatment of HT and associated autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34
JournalBMC Endocrine Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2013


  • Journal Article


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