Immune-mediated thyroiditis

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Immune-mediated thyroiditis (lymphocytic thyroiditis) is an immune-mediated disease of dogs characterized by lymphocytic inflammation of the thyroid gland resulting in secondary hypothyroidism.

This disease is similar to Hashimoto's thyroiditis in humans, and involves a common major histocompatibility complex DLA class II allele[1].

Although some cases of thyroid failure may be of genetic origin due tocongenital anomalies of the thyroid gland or pituitary, acquired thyroid diseases are more frequently observed and lymphocytic thyroiditis is one of the leading causes[2].

A predisposition has been reported in the:

Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism and serum detection of serum antibodies against thyroid components (thyroglobulin autoantibodies). The presence of thyroglobulin autoantibodies implies thyroid gland pathology and in dogs with symptoms of hypothyroidism, is suggestive of lymphocytic thyroiditis, although this test is not an indicator of the severity or progressiveness of disease. Thyroglobulin autoantibodies should not be used alone in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

A differential diagnosis would include thyroid carcinoma and idiopathic follicular atrophy[6].


  1. Kennedy LJ et al (2006) Association of canine hypothyroidism with a common major histocompatibility complex DLA class II allele. Tissue Antigens 68(1):82-86
  2. Graham PA et al (2007) Etiopathologic findings of canine hypothyroidism. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 37(4):617-631
  3. Angles JM et al (2005) Uveodermatologic (VKH-like) syndrome in American Akita dogs is associated with an increased frequency of DQA1*00201. Tissue Antigens 66(6):656-665
  4. Mansfield CS & Mooney CT (2006) Lymphocytic-plasmacytic thyroiditis and glomerulonephritis in a boxer. J Small Anim Pract 47(7):396-399
  5. Ferm K et al (2009) Prevalence of diagnostic characteristics indicating canine autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis in giant schnauzer and hovawart dogs. J Small Anim Pract 50(4):176-179
  6. Gosselin SJ et al (1982) Autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis in dogs. Vet Immunol Immunopathol 3(1-2):185-201