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Iodine Research

Resource Network of The Iodine Movement

Iodine and the Body



Thymus accumulation of radioactive iodine.
Jackson GL, Graham WP 3rd, Flickinger FW, Kennedy TJ.
Pa Med. 1979 Nov;82(11):37-8.
[citation only]


Thymus accumulation of I-131 after therapeutic dose for thyroid carcinoma.
Muratet JP, Giraud P.
Clin Nucl Med. 1996 Sep;21(9):736-7.
[citation only]


Expression of thyroid-related genes in human thymus.
Spitzweg C, Joba W, Heufelder AE.
Thyroid. 1999 Feb;9(2):133-41.
[abstract only]

"There are several thyroid antigens including human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS), thyrotropin
receptor (TSH-R), thyroid peroxidase (TPO), and thyroglobulin (Tg) that have been considered to
be thyroid-specific proteins involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune thyroid diseases. We
examined the expression of these thyroid-tolerance related genes in normal human thymus, the
lymphoid organ responsible for the induction of central T-cell self. Reverse
transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) amplifications were performed with 4 pairs of
oligonucleotide primers specific for the hNIS, TSH-R, TPO, and Tg genes, respectively.
Gene-specific transcripts were confirmed by Southern hybridization using digoxigenin-labeled
internal oligonucleotide probes. To monitor cDNA integrity and quantity, all samples were
coamplified with a pair of intron-spanning human beta-actin-specific oligonucleotide primers.
Furthermore, using a highly sensitive immunostaining technique and antibodies specific for these 4
antigens, we examined whether NIS-, TSH-R-, TPO-, and Tg-specific immunoreactivity can be
detected and localized in normal human thymus. RT-PCR and Southern hybridization revealed
expression of each of these 4 thyroid-related genes in normal human thymus. In addition,
immunohistochemical analysis of frozen tissue sections derived from normal human thymus showed
marked immunoreactivity for NIS, TSH-R, and Tg as well as weaker staining for TPO. Control
reactions using isotype matched nonimmune immunoglobulins were consistently negative. Taken
together, our results suggest that NIS-, TSH-R-, TPO-, and Tg-RNA are present and actively
processed to immunoreactive NIS-, TSH-R-, TPO-, and Tg-like protein in human thymus. These
data support the concept that pre-T lymphocytes may be educated to recognize thyroid-related
epitopes expressed in thymus, and, thus, to generate self-tolerance against these thyroid-related


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