Following the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic, reports pointed on a high prevalence of thyroiditis-related thyrotoxicosis. Interpretation of thyroid tests during illness, however, is hampered by changes occurring in the context of non-thyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS). In order to elucidate these findings, we studied thyroid function in carefully selected cohorts of COVID-19 positive and negative patients.
Cohort observational study.
We measured TSH, FT4, T3 within 24 h of admission in 196 patients without thyroid disease and/or confounding medications. In this study, 102 patients were SARS-CoV-2 positive; 41 admitted in the ICU, 46 in the ward and 15 outpatients. Controls consisted of 94 SARS-CoV-2 negative patients; 39 in the ICU and 55 in the ward. We designated the thyroid hormone patterns as consistent with NTIS, thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism.
A NTIS pattern was encountered in 60% of ICU and 36% of ward patients, with similar frequencies between SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative patients (46.0% vs 46.8%, P = NS). A thyrotoxicosis pattern was observed in 14.6% SARS-CoV-2 ICU patients vs 7.7% in ICU negative (P = NS) and, overall in 8.8% of SARS-CoV-2 positive vs 7.4% of negative patients. In these patients, thyroglobulin levels were similar to those with normal thyroid function or NTIS. The hypothyroidism pattern was rare.
NTIS pattern is common and relates to the severity of disease rather than SARS-CoV-2 infection. A thyrotoxicosis pattern is less frequently observed with similar frequency between patients with and without COVID-19. It is suggested that thyroid hormone monitoring in COVID-19 should not differ from other critically ill patients.