Objective: Programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) inhibitors are widely used for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thyroid dysfunction is common in patients treated with this therapy, although the dynamic changes in thyroid function and sonographic features remain unclear.
Methods: We analyzed 38 patients with HCC who received anti-PD-1 therapy at our hospital. Demographic, clinical, laboratory and ultrasound data were extracted from electronic medical records. The grading of thyroid nodules was based on the ACR-TIRADS classification. Statistical analyses were performed using GraphPad Prism 5.0.
Results: Fifteen patients (40%) had hypothyroidism, among which 6 had hypothyroidism at baseline while 3 had overt hypothyroidism and 6 had subclinical hypothyroidism after anti-PD1 therapy. The proportion of patients with euthyroid function and thyroid antibody positivity was significantly lower than that of patients with thyroid dysfunction (10% vs. 39%, p<0.05). Nine patients (24%) had irregular echo patterns on sonographic imaging, 6 of whom had irregular echo patterns present during the treatment, but only one had them persist until the end of treatment. At baseline, the classification of most thyroid nodules was grade 3, with a significant increase in grade 4A and 4B classifications during treatment, though most nodules remained grade 3 at the end of treatment. There were no significant differences in survival rates between the euthyroid and thyroid dysfunction groups.
Conclusion: Anti-PD-1 therapy-induced thyroid dysfunction was accompanied by changes in thyroid function, antibodies, and ultrasonography. Therefore, in patients receiving anti-PD-1 therapy, close, dynamic monitoring of thyroid function, antibodies and ultrasonographic characteristics is necessary.