Increase in Peripheral CD3CD56brightCD16 Natural Killer Cells in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Associated with HHV-6 Infection

  • Roberta Rizzo
  • Maria Chiara Zatelli
  • Antonella Rotola
  • Enzo Cassai
  • Ettore Degli Uberti
  • Dario Di LucaEmail author
  • Elisabetta Caselli
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 897)


Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is a very common autoimmune disease of the thyroid. In addition to genetic background, several viruses, including herpesviruses, have been suggested to play a role as possible environmental triggers of disease, but conclusive data are still lacking. Previous results showed that HT patients have an increased cellular immune response directed against the HHV-6 U94 protein and increased NK activity directed against HHV-6 infected thyrocytes.

In this study, we characterized the antiviral antibody response and the NK cells activity and subtype in HHV-6 infected HT patients. The results showed that HT subjects have increased prevalence and titer of anti-U94 antibodies and a higher amount of CD3-CD56brightCD16NK cell percentages compared to controls. Furthermore, the cell activation of CD3CD56bright NK cells in HT patients significantly correlates with TPO and Tg Ab levels.

The results suggest that HHV-6 might contribute to HT development, increasing NK cell secretion of inflammatory cytokines that could sustain the persistence of an inflammatory status in HT patients.


Hashimoto’s thyroiditis HHV-6 NK cells 



This work was supported by grants from University of Ferrara (FAR).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Rizzo
    • 1
  • Maria Chiara Zatelli
    • 2
  • Antonella Rotola
    • 1
  • Enzo Cassai
    • 1
  • Ettore Degli Uberti
    • 2
  • Dario Di Luca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisabetta Caselli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Sciences – Section of Microbiology and Medical GeneticsUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Section of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Department of Medical SciencesUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly

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