Hyperthyroidism caused by nodular goiters is a common disease of aging cats. Growth and iodine metabolism were studied by autoradiography in normal and hyperfunctioning thyroid tissue obtained from cats injected with 125I before surgery, and in xenografts, grown in nude mice, after double-labeling with 131I and [3H]thymidine. Hyperthyroid cat goiters contain single or multiple hyperplastic nodules, consisting of highly cellular tissue with an iodine metabolism exceeding that of the surrounding normal tissue. Xenografts of hyperplastic hot tissue in thyroxine-treated nude mice retain their original histologic pattern and continue to accumulate radioiodine intensely. Autoradiographs assessed for [3H]thymidine incorporation reveal autonomously proliferating follicular cells within the hyperplastic foci but not within the normal tissue. Administration of sera from donor cats into host mice fails to stimulate the xenografts. Neither hyperfunction nor growth of toxic cat goiters depends on extrathyroidal stimulators. The basic lesion appears to be an excessive intrinsic growth capacity of some thyroid cells.
H J Peter, H Gerber, H Studer, D V Becker, M E Peterson
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