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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Viruses and thyroiditis: an update

Rachel Desailloud12* and Didier Hober1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire de Virologie/UPRES EA3610 Faculté de Médecine, Université Lille 2, CHRU Lille, Centre de Biologie/Pathologie et Parc Eurasanté, 59037 Lille, France

2 Service d'Endocrinologie-Diabétologie-Nutrition, CHU Amiens, 80054 Amiens, France

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Virology Journal 2009, 6:5  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-5

Published: 12 January 2009


Viral infections are frequently cited as a major environmental factor involved in subacute thyroiditis and autoimmune thyroid diseases This review examines the data related to the role of viruses in the development of thyroiditis.

Our research has been focused on human data. We have reviewed virological data for each type of thyroiditis at different levels of evidence; epidemiological data, serological data or research on circulating viruses, direct evidence of thyroid tissue infection. Interpretation of epidemiological and serological data must be cautious as they don't prove that this pathogen is responsible for the disease. However, direct evidence of the presence of viruses or their components in the organ are available for retroviruses (HFV) and mumps in subacute thyroiditis, for retroviruses (HTLV-1, HFV, HIV and SV40) in Graves's disease and for HTLV-1, enterovirus, rubella, mumps virus, HSV, EBV and parvovirus in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. However, it remains to determine whether they are responsible for thyroid diseases or whether they are just innocent bystanders. Further studies are needed to clarify the relationship between viruses and thyroid diseases, in order to develop new strategies for prevention and/or treatment.