Link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus.

Today I am reviewing an article about my FAVORITE subject! Autoimmune associations!

The article, titled: Possible link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and oral lichen planus: a novel association found, was published in May of this year in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations.

Why I like this article:
In addition to narcolepsy, I also struggle with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus. (My lichen planus is predominantly on my ankles, however, and not in my mouth as it is for many people, including those covered in this article). The lichen planus appeared before I was formally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, however, it is difficult to know when I developed Hashimoto’s, and it isn’t unreasonable to assume that I may have had the Hashimoto’s for quite some time prior to developing lichen planus.
What they found: 
The authors found that more people with oral lichen planus (OLP) had a higher incidence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) than those that did not. In fact, 14.3% of people with LP had Hashimoto’s (13% more than the general population, which has a 1% occurrence of HT). They also found that in 93.3% of the cases where Hashimoto’s and LP presented together, the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis came first, suggesting a causal role for circulating anti-thyroid antibody in lichen planus.
Though novel, the finding isn’t altogether surprising.  In fact, lichen planus is associated with many other autoimmune diseases, including Sjrogen’s syndrome and lupus, and is considered a common skin rash among autoimmune patients.
What is interesting about the association between Hashimoto’s and skin disorders such as lichen planus, however, is that keratinocytes (skin cells) have been shown to express receptors for thyroid hormones, thus potentially serving as an extra-thyroid site of organ specific autoimmune attack.  This is speculative, as of yet, but it will be interesting to see if these antigens are upregulated in lichen planus lesions of individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

5 thoughts on “Link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus.

  1. I also have lichen planus…(not the oral kind) and hashimoto’s as well.
    Do you feel like your gluten free diet has helped with lichen planus? Mine is particularly bad as of late and I can’t imagine taking steroid treatment…sometimes I wonder if it could be related to gluten or processed foods.

    • Hi Margaux,

      I may write a post on this soon. Unfortunately, I have not noticed a difference in gluten free diet and my lichen planus. There are TSH receptors in the skin, and lichen planus has been linked to Hashimoto’s. I think that the autoimmune reaction that causes Hashimoto’s also attacks the skin because both the cells of the skin and the thyroid express some of the same things. So they body probably intends to attack the thyroid, and it also “accidentally” attacks the skin because it is wearing the same color uniform.
      It has also been shown that a gluten free diet doesn’t make Hashimoto’s go away or get better, although there is good evidence that untreated celiac disease or gluten intolerance may lead to thyroid disease/Hashimoto’s in the first place. I would suspect that a gluten free diet will not help Hashimoto’s or lichen planus directly, although I found that it did help many of the other autoimmune and gluten-intolerant like symptoms I was having. I have also found that it helps the fatigue associated with the Hashimotos.

  2. I have had HT for 40 years, my mother had it, as have my two daughters & one of my sons.(My grandchildren & great-grandchildren have not, so far, shown any signs.)

    6 years ago I had the first bout of oral LP, which has come and gone, over the years, with the only effective treatment being a steroid spray, used until the attack subsides.

    One of my daughters & my HT affected son, have LP. Is this another thread of evidence of a connection, I wonder.

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  4. My currently 8 year old daughter has had mildly elevated TSH (4.3-4.9) for the past 1.5 years. She very recently has been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus. There is some diagnosed autoimmune disease in grandparents and some undiagnosed autoimmune symptoms in mom. Not really sure how alarmed to be or what to do next. Any suggestions?

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