Autoantibodies to thyroglobulin in health and disease

Noel R. Rose, C. Lynne Burek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Thyroglobulin(Tg) - a heavily glycosylated, iodinated protein - is a major autoantigen in autoimmune thyroiditis. Tg also induces thyroiditis by immunization of experimental animals. Humans with chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis characteristically produce autoantibodies to thyroglobulin, but similar autoantibodies are also found in some clinically normal, euthyroid individuals. A comparison of the fine specificity of autoantibodies in humans and in experimentally immunized mice was carried out, based on their ability to inhibit a panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, as well as normal individuals, produced autoantibodies mainly to the conserved, cross-reactive determinants of thyroglobulin. Patients developed additional autoantibodies to species-restricted epitopes. The determinants recognized by patients with Graves' disease differed in some respects from epitopes recognized by thyroiditis patients or patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Similarly, mice that are genetically susceptible to thyroiditis produced autoantibodies that reacted with the mouse-specific antigenic determinants. Using an autoantibody that reacts with one of the epitopes associated with thyroiditis, a reactive 15-kDa fragment of human Tg - localized at the carboxy end of the molecule - was isolated and sequenced. Iodine plays an important role in the precise specificity of the disease-associated epitope, since T cells from patients with thyroiditis react with iodinated but not noniodinated human thyroglobulin. Addition of iodine to Tg generates new or exposes cryptic epitopes. Use of a selected MAb as a surrogate for the T-cell receptor suggests that a specific iodine- containing epitope is sometimes involved in recognition. Finally, thyroglobulin-reactive autoantibodies exhibit proteolytic activity on thyroglobulin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Part A Enzyme Engineering and Biotechnology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Autoantigen
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Autoimmunity
  • Iodine
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Thyroiditis
  • Thyroxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Autoantibodies to thyroglobulin in health and disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this