What is the Role of Immune System in Development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto Thyroiditis also known by the name of Hashimoto’s Disease or Hashimoto Syndrome is a pathological autoimmune condition characterized by inflammation of the thyroid (1, 2). This causes depletion in the levels of the thyroid hormones(1, 2).

What is the Function of the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid releases variety of hormones which help regulate the metabolic process of the body. A depletion in the thyroid hormones leads to a condition called hypothyroidism, which affects the overall metabolic rate of the body. It also affects the heart rate and the way the body utilizes the calories that are ingested by an individual.

What Causes Hashimoto Thyroiditis?

The primary cause of Hashimoto Thyroiditis is still unknown; however, there are some risk factors which promote the development of this health condition(2). Some studies suggest that genetic makeup of an individual play a role in the development of Hashimoto Thyroiditis and others suggest hormonal imbalance(2). Excessive intake of iodine also is a risk factor for Hashimoto Thyroiditis(2).

What is the Role of Immune System in Development of Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

What is the Role of Immune System in Development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a condition where the thyroid gets inflamed and this is an autoimmune disorder(2). This means that the immune system, which is supposed to protect the body from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, attacks the healthy tissues of the thyroid gland resulting in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis(2).

The reason behind the immune system attacking the thyroid gland is not clear, although there are certain factors like genetic makeup and certain underlying medical conditions, which make an individual vulnerable to autoimmune disorders. In some cases, the damage done to the thyroid gland is so enormous that the entire thyroid gland requires to be removed, especially in cases of delayed diagnosis or treatment or persistent symptoms even after treatment(3).

In cases of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, large quantities of lymphocytes or immune cells that get damaged infiltrate the thyroid. Once in the thyroid gland, they start destroying the healthy cells and tissues of the gland(2). This is generally a very slow process which is precisely the reason why many people remain undiagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for a prolonged period of time due to lack of symptoms.

Since the thyroid is invaded by the immune cells, it hampers its ability to produce adequate levels of hormones needed for metabolism and other various functions of the body(2). This ultimately leads to hypothyroidism. In some cases, the immune system can cause enlargement of the thyroid, which is a condition called Goiter(2).


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