Experimental evidence suggests that spontaneous mutation in lymphocytes may be a factor in the pathogenesis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
This finding by Norman D. Anderson, MD, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Department of Medical Genetics, has significance beyond the immediate question of the etiology of diffuse lymphocytic (Hashimoto's) thyroiditis, since it would appear to lend indirect support to the malignant clone concept of autoimmune disease.
The malignant clone theory, first propounded by F. M. Burnet, suggests that the lack of recognition of self by the body's immune system may be the result of lymphocytic mutation.
Hashimoto's disease, however, has long been thought to typify the more widely held sequestered antigen concept of autoimmune disease. This theory of autoimmunity holds that the thyroid, and a limited number of other body sites, lie outside the range of the body's immune mechanism. Sequestered behind tissue barriers at an early stage of fetal development, before