Expansion of inflammatory monocytes in periphery and infiltrated into thyroid tissue in Graves' disease

Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 29;11(1):13443. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92737-4.


Monocytes are important mediators of immune system and are reported to be altered in autoimmune disorders. Little is known about the pathological role of monocytes in Graves' disease (GD). Thus, we investigated monocytes in periphery and thyroid tissue in GD. Untreated GD patients were enrolled and followed up until remission. Monocytes were significantly increased and positively correlated with anti-thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) in untreated GD (rcounts = 0.269, P < 0.001; rpercentage = 0.338, P < 0.001). Flow cytometry showed CD14++ CD16+ monocytes were increased and CD14++ CD16- monocytes were decreased in untreated GD (both P < 0.001). Skewed monocyte subsets were recovered in GD with remission. Serum B cell-activating factor (BAFF) was positively correlated with TRAb (r = 0.384 and P = 0.001). CD14++ CD16+ monocytes expressed higher level of BAFF in untreated GD (P < 0.05). The frequency of CD14+ monocytes and CD14+ CD16+ monocytes were significantly higher in GD thyroid tissue than in normal thyroid tissue (both P < 0.001). Our study suggested CD14++ CD16+ monocytes were significantly expanded and involved in the production of TRAb via secreting a higher level of BAFF in periphery. Besides, monocytes infiltrated into thyroid tissue and thus could serve as an important participant in GD pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • B-Cell Activating Factor / blood
  • Female
  • Graves Disease* / blood
  • Graves Disease* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes* / metabolism
  • Monocytes* / pathology
  • Thyroid Gland* / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland* / pathology


  • B-Cell Activating Factor
  • TNFSF13B protein, human