Iodine excess as an environmental risk factor for autoimmune thyroid disease

Yuqian Luo, Akira Kawashima, Yuko Ishido, Aya Yoshihara, Kenzaburo Oda, Naoki Hiroi, Tetsuhide Ito, Norihisa Ishii, Koichi Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


The global effort to prevent iodine deficiency disorders through iodine supplementation, such as universal salt iodization, has achieved impressive progress during the last few decades. However, iodine excess, due to extensive environmental iodine exposure in addition to poor monitoring, is currently a more frequent occurrence than iodine deficiency. Iodine excess is a precipitating environmental factor in the development of autoimmune thyroid disease. Excessive amounts of iodide have been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis in humans and animals, while intrathyroidal depletion of iodine prevents disease in animalstrains susceptible to severe thyroiditis. Although the mechanisms by which iodide induces thyroiditis are still unclear, several mechanisms have been proposed: (1) excess iodine induces the production of cytokines and chemokines that can recruit immunocompetent cells to the thyroid; (2) processing excess iodine in thyroid epithelial cells may result in elevated levels of oxidative stress, leading to harmful lipid oxidation and thyroid tissue injuries; and (3) iodine incorporation in the protein chain of thyroglobulin may augment the antigenicity of this molecule. This review will summarize the current knowledge regarding excess iodide as an environmental toxicant and relate it to the development of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12895-12912
Number of pages18
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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