Hashimoto’s Health Tip: Immune Cells & TSH


Immune Cells Directly Impact the Thyroid

Hey people! Today’s post in about how the immune system and the thyroid interact.

In researching this week’s content I stumbled on something fascinating that I just have to share with you.

Did you know that the immune system actively modulates thyroid hormone levels and TSH?And I do not mean indirectly, I mean directly.

Immune Cells Produce TSH

Check this out! TSH is not only produced in the pituitary. 20 years ago, it was discovered by researchers that immune cells actually produce TSH.

Where? In the bone marrow where immune cells are born, by white blood cells and also in the intestines, when exposed to a virus, or when exposed to bacterial toxins like lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which can end up in the blood stream when you have leaky gut or intestinal permeability issues.

Bacteria Increases Conversion of T4 to T3

LPS exposure also increases conversion of T4 to T3 causing a local surge of T3. This in can result in a lower output of thyroid hormone.

And 2 immune proteins, IL-18 and IL-12, both of which have been implicated as proteins that may make flare ups and inflammation worse with Hashimoto’s also produce TSH.

Case In Point

I was working with someone the other day, who is a perfect example of this.

Her lab tests say her TSH is too high, yet she is having all these hyper symptoms (she should be hypo). Anxiety, palpitations, mood swings, she’s going nuts.

One possible explanation? She isn’t gluten or dairy free. She has some gluten and dairy, it causes a massive immune response in her intestines, maybe she’s exposed to a bovine virus or viral fragments, these immune cells produce TSH. It looks high because of this, but she’s functionally hyperthyroid because the immune system has overcompensated.

It Works Both Ways

And this works both ways, a hypothyroid state creates impaired immune function. There is still a lot that is not known about this, but one of the theories is that immune cells produce this local surge of T3 and this causes a systemic decline in TRH and TSH production.

One theory on this is that in times of infection and immune induced inflammation (which autoimmune disease is a chronic state of) the immune system shuts down thyroid function and then at some point kicks it back in again.

Communication Is Out of Whack

Well, with Hashimoto’s, this endocrine-immune communication is out of whack. The immune system may not be able to kick things in again. Or may not know when the “infection” is over due to chronic inflammation and tissue attack. The antigen is the tissue of the body. The fight never stops, you understand what I’m saying?

So the immune system is actively throwing the body’s thyroid hormone levels out of whack trying to keep the body in a lower metabolic state so that it can recover from this infection. But there may be a chronic state of infection, or ongoing chronic infections in the body.

Food for thought. Heal your gut. Address chronic infections. This is not just a thyroid problem!


About the Author Marc Ryan

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