The relationship between thyroid auto-immunity and the presence of lymphocytes in the thyroid gland has been analysed in patients with Graves' disease, toxic adenoma, and non-toxic nodular goitre. In all these conditions circulating antibody to thyroglobulin was significantly associated with lymphocytic infiltration. No similar correlation was established in the case of the complement-fixing antibody.
Complement-fixing antibody was significantly commoner in Graves' disease (diffuse thyrotoxic goitre) than in toxic adenoma and non-toxic nodular goitre. Circulating thyroglobulin antibody probably originates from lymphoid tissue within and around the thyroid gland itself.
Overactivity of pituitary thyrotropin may favour immunization to the intracellular (complementfixing) antigen.
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