A role for IL-15 in driving the onset of spontaneous autoimmune thyroiditis?

Pete Kaiser, Lisa Rothwell, Dusan Vasícek, Karel Hala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The obese strain (OS) of chickens, which suffers from spontaneous autoimmune thyroiditis, is an excellent animal model for Hashimoto's thyroiditis and provides a unique opportunity to investigate the mechanisms underlying and driving the onset of the disease. Following recent advances in cloning chicken cytokines, we can now begin to investigate the role of cytokines in driving the lymphoid infiltration of the thyroid seen in these birds from day 7 posthatch. Using real-time quantitative RT-PCR, we characterized the expression of IFN-gamma, IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, and IL-18 in thyroids from OS birds and control CB line birds, both in the embryo just before hatch (embryonic day 20) and at 3 and 5 days posthatch. All of these cytokines were up-regulated compared with levels in thyroids from CB birds, at least at some time points, with some evidence for coordination of regulation, e.g., for the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1beta and IL-8. Only IL-15 was up-regulated at all time points. IL-15 was also shown to be up-regulated in spleens of OS birds at embryonic day 20 and 5 days posthatch, suggesting that IL-15 is constitutively up-regulated in this line of birds. This could explain the general immune system hyperreactivity exhibited by OS chickens and may be a factor driving the lymphoid infiltration of the thyroid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4216-20
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens
  • Cytokines/biosynthesis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Interleukin-15
  • RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis
  • Species Specificity
  • Spleen/immunology
  • Spleen/metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland/immunology
  • Thyroid Gland/metabolism
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune
  • Up-Regulation

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