Heufelder, Armin E.; Goellner, J. R.; Bahn, R. S.; Gleich, G. J.; Hay, I. D.
Tissue eosinophilia and eosinophil degranulation in Riedel's invasive fibrous thyroiditis.
In: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 81, No. 3: pp. 977-984
The etiology of Riedel's invasive fibrous thyroiditis (IFT) has remained obscure. This rare disorder has been confused in the past with the more common fibrous variant of Hashimoto's disease. The typical histological features of IFT, in particular the presence of an invasive fibrosclerotic process in conjunction with a prominent chronic inflammatory infiltrate, suggest that the release of fibrogenic cytokines and other factors from these cellular infiltrates may play an important role in the pathogenesis of this condition. Our observations in routinely processed tissue sections obtained from patients with documented IFT of striking tissue eosinophilia led us to hypothesize that eosinophils and their products may play a role in the evolution of this disease. Immunofluorescence staining with affinity-purified polyclonal rabbit antibody directed against human eosinophil granule major basic protein revealed marked tissue eosinophilia and abundant extracellular deposition of major basic protein in all specimens from 16 patients with IFT. By contrast, only occasional eosinophils and no extracellular major basic protein were detected in control thyroid tissues obtained from patients with multinodular goiter, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's disease, and normal thyroid tissue. The presence of marked eosinophil infiltration and extracellular major basic protein deposition in IFT and other associated fibrosclerotic conditions suggests a role for eosinophils and their products in propagating the fibrogenesis seen in IFT.