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Keywords:

  • experimental autoimmune thyroiditis;
  • high/low responders;
  • pathogenic thyroglobulin peptides;
  • resistant/susceptible strains;
  • T-cell epitopes

Summary

Experimental autoimmune thyroiditis (EAT) is commonly induced by thyroglobulin (Tg) or Tg peptides in mice genetically susceptible to thyroiditis. In the present study, we investigated the immunogenic and pathogenic potential of a novel 20mer human Tg peptide, p2208 (amino acids 2208–2227), in mouse strains classified as low (LR) or high (HR) responders in EAT. The peptide was selected for its content in overlapping binding motifs for MHC class II products, associated with either resistance (Ab), or susceptibility (As, Ek) to EAT. We therefore immunized LR BALB/c (H-2d) and C57BL/6 (H-2b) strains, as well as HR CBA/J (H-2k) and SJL/J (H-2s) mice with 100 nmol of p2208 in adjuvant and collected their sera, lymph nodes and thyroid glands for further analysis. The p2208 peptide was found to contain B-cell and cryptic T-cell epitope(s) in two of the four strains examined, one LR and one HR. Specifically, it elicited direct EAT in C57BL/6 mice (two of seven mice, infiltration index 1–3), as well as in SJL/J mice (two of six mice, infiltration index 1–2). Such an EAT model could provide insights into the immunoregulatory cascades taking place in resistant hosts.