Expression of thyroglobulin by regulatory T cells in thyroid tissue

in Journal of Molecular Endocrinology
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  • 1 Department of Endocrinology, Nanjing First Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
  • 2 Department of Endocrinology, Wuxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Wuxi, China
  • 3 Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery, Nanjing First Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
  • 4 Central Laboratory, Nanjing First Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
  • 5 Department of Immunology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

Correspondence should be addressed to X-M Mao: maoxming@163.com

(*Y-Q Zhu and Y Hu contributed equally to this work)

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The follicles are the minimal functional unit of the thyroid; the morphology and the function of each follicle can vary significantly. However, the reasons for the apparent follicular heterogeneity are poorly understood. Some tissue-resident regulatory T cells (Tregs) have a special phenotype that expresses unique molecules related to local tissue and regulates the tissue functions. The aim of this study was to identify the phenotype of thyroid Tregs and the roles of thyroid Tregs in thyroid physiological regulation. Thyroid tissue and peripheral blood samples were obtained from patients with benign thyroid nodules. Microarray-based gene expression, flow cytometry, immunofluorescence microscopy, and functional analysis of thyroid Tregs were performed. Here, we demonstrated that human thyroid Tregs expressed high level of thyroglobulin (Tg), both gene and protein. The immunofluorescence microscopy of thyroid section showed that the FOXP3+Tg+ cells concentrated in some of the thyroid follicles, at the side of the thyroid follicle. The peripheral blood Tregs expressed minimal levels of Tg, and low levels of Tg could effectively induce peripheral blood Tregs to express Tg, which was independent of thyrotropin simulation. Furthermore, the Tg secreted freely from thyroid Tregs that negatively regulated some thyroid-related genes expression. Our results revealed that the thyroid Tregs was a distinct population of Tregs, which expressed high level of Tg. The thyroid Tregs regulate thyroid function by Tg that is paracrine from the cells.

 

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