[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animal models of autoimmune thyroid disease are associated with thyroglobulin (Tg) as autoantigen whereas in man the autoimmune response to microsomal antigen/thyroid peroxidase (TPO) appears to play a major role in thyroiditis. Consequently, we have compared the ability of TPO and Tg to induce thyroid autoantibodies and thyroid damage in mice known to be susceptible (CBA/J) or resistant (BALB/c) to thyroiditis induced using murine Tg. Groups of three to five mice were immunized twice using Freund's complete adjuvant with 80-100 micrograms highly purified porcine (p) TPO, pTg, rat (r) Tg, human Tg, bovine serum albumin (BSA) or BSA + 0.2 micrograms pTg (the level of Tg contamination of TPO). Four weeks after immunization with TPO, plasma from CBA/J (but not BALB/c) mice contained IgG class antibodies which bound to TPO-coated tubes in the presence or absence of excess Tg (and could therefore be clearly distinguished from Tg antibodies) but there was no evidence of thyroiditis in either strain of mice. In contrast, in CBA/J mice immunized with rTg and, to a lesser extent in mice that had received pTg, thyroid tissue was infiltrated with lymphoid cells and/or neutrophils and antibodies to pTg (but not pTPO) were present. Our observations demonstrate that induction of TPO antibody alone is insufficient to lead to thyroiditis in CBA/J mice. Further, these studies emphasize the complex interactions between MHC and different thyroid antigens in the processes leading to thyroid destruction.