Sander DM, Wolfsheimer K, Gallaher WR, et al.
The thyroid gland is afflicted in several endocrine, autoimmune, and malignant diseases. Previous studies detected immunoreactivity against proteins of a human intracisternal A-type retroviral particle type-I (HIAP-I) in serum samples from the majority of patients with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid that can also affect other organs, most prominently the eyes. To determine whether hyperthyroid animals might provide a model for the retroviral involvement in thyroid autoimmunity, serum samples from 32 cats (21 hyperthyroid and 11 controls) and 10 hypothyroid dogs were examined for immunoreactivity with HIAP-I using a Western blot technique. Of the 21 hyperthyroid cats 15 (71.4%) were HIAP-I positive, while only 2 of 11 (11.8%) control animals without endocrine pathology were positive. No significant correlations were seen between HIAP seroreactivity and serum thyroid hormone levels (T3 and T4), age, gender, treatment history, vaccination status, or weight. No seroreactivity to HIAP-I was detected in hypothyroid dogs. An examination of HIAP-I reactivity in feline leukemia virus (FeLV)-seroconverting cats found that 7/9 (78%) animals viremic for FeLV-A showed an alteration in HIAP serology, whereas only 1/7 (14%) nonviremic animals showed a change in HIAP-I serology. These results suggest that it may be possible to develop an animal (feline) model for the role of retroviruses in thyroid autoimmune diseases.