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Experimental study on the effects of chronic iodine excess on thyroid function, structure, and autoimmunity in autoimmune-prone NOD.H-2h4 mice


Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones; high intake may lead to thyroid disease. Epidemiologic researches have shown that exposure to iodine may be involved in the onset and development of autoimmune thyroiditis. Iodine may induce hypothyroidism in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis in a dose-dependent manner. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of dosages of iodine on thyroid autoimmunity, morphology, structure, and function in autoimmune-prone animals. NOD.H-2h4 mice were randomly divided into normal iodine, 5-fold, 10-fold, 100-fold, 1,000-fold iodine excess group, anesthetized by diethyl ether and bleed from eye socket vein at 4, 8, 16, and 24 weeks after the commencement of experiment. Iodine and thyroid hormone levels in the thyroid tissue and sera, serum thyroglobulin antibody levels, as well as thyroid gland histological appearance were measured. Excessive iodine caused thyroid goiter, and there was a positive correlation between the thyroid weight and the dosage of iodine (r = 0.64–0.92, < 0.01). Iodine overdose ultrastructurally damaged thyroid epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. The incidence of thyroiditis, as well as the degree of lymphocytic infiltration in the thyroid gradually increased as the dosage increased (r = 0.87–0.98, P ≤ 0.05). Excessive iodine intake might induce goiter, lead to thyroiditis, worsen lymphocytic infiltration, as well as damage to the thyroid follicular structure in a dose-dependent manner in autoimmune-prone NOD.H-2h4 mice.

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The study was supported by grants from the China Medical Board (CMB) in New York, the National Natural Science Fund of China (NNSFC), and Key Laboratory Project of Liaoning Province (2008 S 225).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to the publication of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Weiping Teng.

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Teng, X., Shan, Z., Teng, W. et al. Experimental study on the effects of chronic iodine excess on thyroid function, structure, and autoimmunity in autoimmune-prone NOD.H-2h4 mice. Clin Exp Med 9, 51 (2009).

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  • Iodine
  • NOD.H-2h4 mice
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Thyroid goiter
  • Ultrastructure