The genetics of autoimmune thyroiditis: The first decade

Noel R. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Most of our current understanding of the genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease can be traced to experiments performed in the decade from 1971 to 1981. Chella David was a key contributor to this research. Many of these early steps came from studies of experimental autoimmune thyroiditis. This model has been especially valuable because essentially the same disease can occur spontaneously in selected strains of animals or can be induced by deliberate immunization. From a genetic point of view, the disease has been investigated in three different species: mice, rats and chickens. The same antigen, thyroglobulin, initiates the disease in all three species. Among the main discoveries were the relationship of autoimmune disease to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the interplay of different subregions within the MHC in promoting or retarding development of disease, the differing roles of MHC class II and MHC I class genes in induction and effector phases, respectively, and the cumulative effect of non-MHC genes, each of which represents a small addition to overall susceptibility. Other experiments revealed that genetic differences in thyroglobulin allotypes influence susceptibility to thyroiditis. Thyroid glands differed in different strains in vulnerability to passive transfer of antibody. The first evidence of modulatory genes on the sex-related X chromosome emerged. All of these genetic findings were concurrently translated to the human disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where thyroglobulin is also the initiating antigen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoantibodies
  • Cytotoxic T cells
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Thyroiditis
  • X chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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