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Subacute thyroiditis (SAT) is an inflammatory disorder of the thyroid gland. Although its etiology is not fully understood, it is believed to occur shortly after viral infections and is mostly associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B*35. Cellular immunity is prominent in SAT. Neopterin is produced by activated monocytes/macrophages and is a marker of cellular immunity. Its production is stimulated by interferon gamma (IFN-γ), provided mainly by activated helper T lymphocytes type 1 (Th1) in the adaptive immune system. Therefore, with these cells' activation, an increase in serum neopterin levels is expected. We aimed to evaluate neopterin levels in demonstrating cellular immunity in SAT and compared 15 SAT patients with 16 healthy controls. Since all SAT patients were in the active thyrotoxic phase, we found a significant difference in thyroid functions. Classical inflammatory markers, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein were markedly elevated in the patient group. Although we expected to find an increase considering that cellular immunity is at the forefront in the pathogenesis of SAT, we found serum neopterin levels significantly lower in the patient group than in the control group. There is an increase in CD8+ T cells in the thyroid tissue in SAT. The possible relationship with HLA-B*35- major histocompatibility complex class I in SAT, and the antigen presentation to CD8+ T cells may be the reason why we observed low serum neopterin levels in patients due to the cytokine imbalance. Neopterin provides unique and independent data from classical acute phase response indicators. © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Immunology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Melisa Sahin Tekin, Evin Kocaturk, Sinem Gurcu, Huseyin Kayadibi, Bilge Dibeklioglu, Goknur Yorulmaz. Cellular immunity in subacute thyroiditis: a new perspective through neopterin. Clinical and experimental immunology. 2022 Jul 22;209(1):109-114

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PMID: 35576515

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