Objective: To evaluate the thyroidal lymphoid infiltrate (TLI) in thyroidal functional status (TFS) for differences among patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT).
Study design: Flow-cytometry (FC) was applied to thyroidal fine-needle cytology samples in 57 patients. TLI was analyzed using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) scan and fluorescence antibodies CD3, CD4, CD5, CD8, CD10, and CD19 and kappa and lambda light chains. TFS was determined by serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), FT3 and FT4 immunoassays, in specific clinical settings, to classify the cases as hyperthyroid, euthyroid and hypothyroid. FC assessment was then compared with the corresponding TFS.
Results: B-lymphocytes were present in 44 cases (77%). T-lymphocytes were present in all the cases; CD4/CD8 = 2:1 ratio was observed in 16 euthyroid, 1 hyperthyroid and 3 hypothyroid; CD4/CD8 > or = 3:1 ratio in 22 euthyroid, 2 hyperthyroid and 2 hypothyroid cases; CD4/CD8 < or = 1:1 ratio in 1 euthyroid, 3 hyperthyroid and in 7 hypothyroid cases. Grouping hyperthyroid and hypothyroid cases, a significant association was observed with the CD4/CD8 < or = 1:1 ratio (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Intrathyroidal CD4/CD8 < 1:1 ratio might be the expression of intense apoptosis in the early phases of HT, generally followed by the restoration of CD4/CD8 balance; persistence of increased intrathyroidal CD8 might be related to intense thyroidal damage and thus an increasing risk of hypothyroidism.