Regulatory T cells but not T helper 17 cells are modulated in an animal model of Graves' hyperthyroidism

Jin Zhou, Mei Bi, Chenling Fan, Xizhu Song, Rong Yang, Shujie Zhao, Li Li, Yushu Li, Weiping Teng, Zhongyan Shan
Clinical and Experimental Medicine 2012, 12 (1): 39-46
Graves' disease (GD) involves auto-immunity against thyroid cell antigens, but the reasons for the induction of auto-immunity are uncertain. We wished to investigate the role of T helper 17 (Th17) and regulatory T cells (Treg) in a mouse model of Graves' hyperthyroidism. The model was generated by immunizing mice with adenovirus expressing the autoantigen thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (Ad-TSHR289). The frequencies of splenic Th17 and Treg were determined by flow cytometry. The levels of interleukin-17(IL-17), forkhead box P3 (Foxp3), and orphan retinoic acid nuclear receptor (RORγt) mRNA were determined by real-time PCR. The number of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) T lymphocyte was significantly reduced in the Ad-TSHR289 group compared with the Ad-control (P < 0.05). mRNA level for Foxp3 was less abundant in Ad-TSHR289 group compared with Ad-control (P < 0.05). However, CD4(+)IL-17(+) T-cell subpopulation and expression of RORγt mRNA did not differ significantly between Ad-TSHR289 and Ad-control groups (P > 0.05). Nevertheless, in Ad-TSHR289 group, a profound increase in the Th17/Treg ratios was found. The present study demonstrates that Th17 is not involved in promoting Graves' hyperthyroidism, while Treg and the ratio of Th17/Treg might play a role in the pathogenesis of Graves' hyperthyroidism.

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