Serologic studies of human autoantibodies to thyroid specific antigens by tanned cell hemagglutination, immunofluorescent staining and complement fixation reveal the following relationships:

  1. Thyroglobulin antibodies occurring in the sera of patients with thyroiditis can best be demonstrated using human thyroid extract to coat the tanned cells. Monkey thyroid extract exhibits only little activity and there is almost no cross-reactions with thyroid extracts of rabbit and dog origin. Quantitative titration of the same sera using the immunofluorescent staining of the colloid reveals much lower titer than the tanned cell hemagglutination technique. On the other hand, species specific differences, although present, appear to be less marked.

  2. Human autoantibodies directed against the cytoplasm of thyroid cells cross the species lines more freely than the thyroglobulin antibodies as observed by immunofluorescent staining and complement fixation.

  3. Most thyroiditis sera react with the microsomes of the thyroid and not with those of any other organ when examined by means of the complement fixation test. However, an occasional serum was found which fixed complement not only in the presence of the thyroid microsomal fraction but also with the microsomal fraction of brain tissue. Absorption with thyroid microsomes completely removes the complement-fixing activity against both types of microsomes. Absorption with brain microsomes, on the other hand, removes only the brain reactive serum component but leaves the thyroid-specific one intact.

  4. In contrast to the results obtained by the complement fixation technique, immunofluorescent staining of the cytoplasm of thyroid cells with human antibodies seem to be specific for the thyroid and fail to cross-react with other organs as far as examined in this report.

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