The administration of a high iodide dose (HID; 10 μg/day) to goitrous mice is known to induce thyroid cell necrosis and inflammation, which, in most strains, is transient. In this study, we analyzed the effects of iodide in autoimmune prone non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice.
Control NOD mice fed a standard diet (MID; 1 μg I/day) or HID did not spontaneously develop thyroiditis. In NOD mice previously made goitrous, HID provoked thyroid cell necrosis and diffuse inflammation within 4 days. Inflammatory cells consisted of MHC-class II+ antigen-presenting cells, CD4+ T helper cells and CD8+ T suppressor/cytotoxic cells. After 96 days of treatment with HID, thyroiditis similar to Hashimoto's disease was obtained in 100% of the animals, with destruction of thyroid follicles, large clusters of T and B cells, and antithyroid antibodies in the plasma. When treating goitrous mice with MID, no cell necrosis was observed and no autoimmune thyroiditis was obtained. The early iodide-induced cell necrosis and inflammation may thus be considered as an important factor in the induction and persistence of autoimmune thyroiditis in individuals carrying a genetic susceptibility to autoimmune disease.