Dominant infiltration of T(H)1-type CD4+ T cells at the retrobulbar space of patients with thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy

Thyroid. 1999 Mar;9(3):305-10. doi: 10.1089/thy.1999.9.305.


Lymphocyte infiltration in the retrobulbar space is a prominent histological feature of thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO). We have characterized phenotypic and functional features of T cells derived from retrobulbar infiltrates of 3 TAO patients to better understand their roles in the disease. One hundred four T-cell clones (TCC) were directly established from cells of retrobulbar tissues using a highly efficient cloning procedure. Phenotypic analysis of TCC showed approximately 70% to 80% were CD3+ CD4+ CD8- T cells, and approximately 20% to 30% were CD3+ CD8+ CD4- T cells. None of the TCC were CD3+ CD4- CD8- T cells. Analysis of the cytokine profile of TCC, as documented by the ability to express interferon-gamma, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, and IL-10 demonstrated that the majority of TCC expressed T helper (T(H))1-like profile in both the mRNA and protein levels. A few TCC showed T(H)0-like profile, but no TCC showed T(H)2-like profile. These results suggest that T(H)1-type CD4+ T cells play important roles in the pathogenesis of TAO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clone Cells
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orbit / immunology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Th1 Cells / cytology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Lymphokines