The microbiota and autoimmunity: Their role in thyroid autoimmune diseases

Clin Immunol. 2017 Oct;183:63-74. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2017.07.001. Epub 2017 Jul 6.


Since the 1970s, the role of infectious diseases in the pathogenesis of Graves' disease (GD) has been an object of intensive research. The last decade has witnessed many studies on Yersinia enterocolitica, Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial organisms and their potential impact on GD. Retrospective, prospective and molecular binding studies have been performed with contrary outcomes. Until now it is not clear whether bacterial infections can trigger autoimmune thyroid disease. Common risk factors for GD (gender, smoking, stress, and pregnancy) reveal profound changes in the bacterial communities of the gut compared to that of healthy controls but a pathogenetic link between GD and dysbiosis has not yet been fully elucidated. Conventional bacterial culture, in vitro models, next generation and high-throughput DNA sequencing are applicable methods to assess the impact of bacteria in disease onset and development. Further studies on the involvement of bacteria in GD are needed and may contribute to the understanding of pathogenetic processes. This review will examine available evidence on the subject.

Keywords: Bacteria; Graves' disease; Hashimotos's thyroiditis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / microbiology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Graves Disease / immunology
  • Graves Disease / microbiology
  • Hashimoto Disease / immunology
  • Hashimoto Disease / microbiology
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thyroid Diseases / immunology*
  • Thyroid Diseases / microbiology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / microbiology