Bacteria can trigger Hashimoto thyroiditis

The important relation between bacteria and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Although the complete elucidation about the causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Autoimmune thyroiditis remains uncertain, studies have suggested that this pathology can be triggered by multiple factors resulting from a person’s genetic predisposition, combined with environmental factors. Among the environmental factors, we can highlight infections caused by certain types of bacteria, which are considered as a trigger to promote not only Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but also other autoimmune diseases.

But how do bacteria promote this mechanism? Bacteria and other pathogens can play a process called molecular mimicry. According to this theory, a susceptible host acquires an infection by a pathogen that has similar antigens to the host’s antigens, but which differ enough to induce an immune response when presented to T cells (cell responsible for search out and destroy the targeted invaders). Nonetheless, the organism becomes intolerant to its self-antigens and the specific immune response to the pathogen cross-reacts with the host’s structures, causing damage to the host’s tissues, such as thyroid tissue. In other words, molecular mimicry means that the immune system of the infected individual attacks not only the pathogen, but also parts of its own body, which manifest itself very similar to the infectious agent.

Yersinia enterocolitica is an example of a bacterium that can perform this mechanism in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Studies have shown that people with Hashimoto’s had a higher prevalence of antibodies against Yersinia when compared to individuals who did not have Hashimoto. Also, researchers have found that the antibodies responsible for attacking the bacteria can cross-react with the TSH receptor of thyroid cells, triggering the molecular mimicry process. The person may get this bacterium through contaminated food or water (unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked pork, among others). Once individual is infected, he can have a variety of symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain.

Borrelia burgdorferi is another example of a bacteria that is associated with Hashimoto’s disease through the molecular mimicry mechanism. This pathogen causes Lyme disease, a condition that can rise non-serious symptoms like muscle pain but also serious problems affecting the individual’s joints, heart (irregular heartbeat), brain (meningitis, cognitive impairment disorders) and nerves. Borrelia is transmitted to humans through tick, which can be found in forest areas, so it is important to be aware of the measures to avoid tick bite when the individual exposes himself to the risk areas, where there are high chances of finding ticks.

Other studies have revealed a significant association between the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori and Hashimoto’s disease. A study has shown that patients who had high Anti-TPO Ab titers were significantly affected by H. Pylori infection, however, after the eradication of the bacteria, the levels of Anti-TPO Ab and Anti-thyroglobulin dropped significantly. This pathogen is largely responsible for gastritis and ulcers in people, but not everyone who is infected will develop such conditions. The transmission occurs through contaminated water and food.

The presented article shows the importance of being aware of the symptoms caused by the pathogens responsible for triggering Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and through a conversation with your doctor, it is important carrying out the proper tests to detect these agents. Many people spend years suffering from chronic infections, and the simple fact of detecting and eliminating these infections can end the suffering caused by the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

One of Hashimoto.Help online programs can help you eliminate infection and get yourself back: Reset your immune system: Hashimoto’s gut. 



BUREK, C.L.; TALOR, M.V. Environmental triggers of autoimmune thyroiditis. Journal of Autoimmunity., v (33), p.183-189, 2009.

AGHILI, R.; JAFARZADEH, F.; GHORBANI, R.; KHAMSEH, M.E.; SALAMI, M.A.; MALEK, M. The Association of Helicobacter pylori Infection with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Acta Medica Iranica., v 51(5), 2013.

ALBERT, L.J.; INMAN, R.D. Molecular Mimicry and Autoimmunity. The New England Journal of Medicine., v 341(27), 1999.

CUSICK, M.F.; LIBBEY, J.E.; FUJINAMI, R.S. Molecular Mimicry as a Mechanism of Autoimmune Disease. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol., v 42, p.102-111, 2012.

Blog written by: Vanessa Perdigao

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