Autoantibodies in Feline Hyperthyroidism

Kennedy R.L. and Thoday K.L.

Res Vet Sci, 1988. 45(3): p.300-6.


Thyroid autoantibodies have been demonstrated by indirect immunofluorescence in the sera of 10 of 29 (34 per cent) cats with hyperthyroidism. Antinuclear factor, rare in healthy cats, was found in a further four animals. Twenty-eight of the cats had a palpable goitre at first presentation. In 16 cases the goitre was unilateral, while in the others it was bilateral. Lymphocytic infiltration was present in nine of the 27 (33 per cent) thyroids examined histologically. Five of the sera gave a particularly strong reaction for thyroid antibodies. Four of these cases had bilateral goitres and lymphocytic infiltrations were found in four of the five thyroids (P less than 0.05). Twenty-one of the cats were followed up for a mean period of 11 months after operation, during which time three cats developed recurrent hyperthyroidism. Two had bilateral goitres with lymphocytic infiltration and the serum of both was strongly positive for thyroid microsomal antibodies. The third had unilateral goitre with lymphocytic infiltration and serum which was positive for antinuclear factor. In this case, the recurrence involved the lobe which had been previously operated on. Some cases of feline hyperthyroidism may be immunologically mediated and the condition is thus a potential model for some aspects of autoimmune thyrotoxicosis in man.