B Cell Activating Factor (BAFF) and BAFF Receptor Expression in Autoimmune and Nonautoimmune Thyroid Diseases

Thyroid. 2015 Sep;25(9):1043-9. doi: 10.1089/thy.2015.0029. Epub 2015 Aug 13.


Background: The B cell activating factor (BAFF) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor family, which controls the survival/proliferation of B cells and is involved in the pathogenesis of a number of autoimmune diseases. The objective of the present study was to investigate the expression of BAFF and BAFF receptor (BAFF-R) in the thyroid tissue of patients affected with autoimmune thyroid disorders (AITD) or multinodular goiter (MNG) compared with those with normal thyroids.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed using a panel of antibodies against BAFF, BAFF-R, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD20, CD34, CD79a, CD1a, CD68, and CD163 on the thyroid sections of 27 patients affected with Graves' disease (GD), 23 with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), 16 with nontoxic nodular goiter (NTG), and 15 with toxic nodular goiter (TG), submitted to total thyroidectomy between 2000 and 2011.

Results: The overall BAFF-R expression in thyrocytes was weak and not different in AITD and MNG. Conversely, a stronger BAFF expression was observed in MNG compared with AITD. BAFF and BAFF-R expression in the infiltrating lymphocytes was higher in AITD compared with MNG. Interestingly, in lymphocytes of follicular-like structures observed in HT, BAFF and BAFF-R were localized in the germinal center or in the mantle, respectively.

Conclusions: This study shows that BAFF and BAFF-R are expressed in the thyrocytes derived from patients with either AITD or MNG, in addition to the expected expression of BAFF and its receptor in the infiltrating immune cells of GD and HT. These findings suggest a possible involvement of BAFF and its receptors in the pathophysiology of AITD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • B-Cell Activating Factor / metabolism*
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Goiter, Nodular / immunology
  • Goiter, Nodular / metabolism
  • Graves Disease / immunology
  • Graves Disease / metabolism
  • Hashimoto Disease / immunology
  • Hashimoto Disease / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Thyroid Diseases / immunology*
  • Thyroid Diseases / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland / cytology
  • Thyroidectomy


  • B-Cell Activating Factor
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor
  • TNFRSF13C protein, human
  • TNFSF13B protein, human