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Thyroid Diseases

Antibodies

04/17/2011

Question:

Can you please answer questions about thyroid antibodies? 1. Does the presence of thyroid antibodies always indicate autoimmune thyroid disease? 2. Do antibodies cause goiters or vice versa? 3. Are you more likely to develop thyroid disease if antibodies are present? Thank you for helping me understand.

Answer:

Thyroid antibodies are produced as a result of immunologic reaction to thyroid antigen in your body. There are different types of antigen and antibodies with different effects on thyroid structure and function. It has been shown that autoimmune thyroid disorder in animal model can be induced using specific thyroid antigen; suggesting that elevated thyroid antibodies in human may play a role in autoimmune thyroid disorders. Almost all patients with Hashimoto’s thyroid disorder (generally causing low thyroid function) have higher circulatory levels of antibodies to some of these antigens. However, elevated levels of thyoid antibodies can be found in individuals with no clinical or hormonal evidence of thyroid disorder (20% of women). Practical point for being discussed with your primary physician or endocrinologist is whether your thyroid function is within normal range or not. In presence of thyroid antibodies any slight abnormality in thyroid function should be monitored over time.

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Response by:

Marzieh  Salehi, MD Marzieh Salehi, MD
Assistant Professor of Endocrinology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati