Central hypothyrodism (CeH) is a hypothyroid state caused by an insufficient stimulation by thyrotropin (TSH) of an otherwise normal thyroid gland. Several advancements, including the recent publication of expert guidelines for CeH diagnosis and management, have been made in recent years thus increasing the clinical awareness on this condition. Here, we reviewed the recent advancements and give expert opinions on critical issues. Indeed, CeH can be the consequence of various disorders affecting either the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. Recent data enlarged the list of candidate genes for heritable CeH and a genetic origin may be the underlying cause for CeH discovered in pediatric or even adult patients without apparent pituitary lesions. This raises the doubt that the frequency of CeH may be underestimated. CeH is most frequently diagnosed as a consequence of the biochemical assessments in patients with hypothalamic/pituitary lesions. In contrast with primary hypothyroidism, low FT4 with low/normal TSH levels are the biochemical hallmark of CeH, and adequate thyroid hormone replacement leads to the suppression of residual TSH secretion. Thus, CeH often represents a clinical challenge because physicians cannot rely on the use of the ‘reflex TSH strategy’ for screening or therapy monitoring. Nevertheless, in contrast with general assumption, the finding of normal TSH levels may indicate thyroxine under-replacement in CeH patients. The clinical management of CeH is further complicated by the combination with multiple pituitary deficiencies, as the introduction of sex steroids or GH replacements may uncover latent forms of CeH or increase the thyroxine requirements.
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Luca Persani, Biagio Cangiano, and Marco Bonomi
Chenjia Tang, Yanting Dong, Lusi Lu, and Nan Zhang
This study was designed to explore the relationships between the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with subacute thyroiditis (SAT).
This is a single-center retrospective study.
Eighty-nine patients with SAT who were hospitalized in the Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Zhejiang, China, from October 2014 to September 2020 were included.
The Mann–Whitney U-test, chi-square test, and Cox regression analysis were conducted to identify the relationships between clinical characteristics and outcomes. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to determine the optimal cutoff levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
The hypothyroidism and recurrence rates were 15.7 and 16.9%, respectively. CRP (≥72.0 mg/L), TSH (<0.02 mIU/L), and free triiodothyronine (fT3) (≥4.10 pg/mL) were associated with hypothyroidism. The cutoff level was 97.80 mg/L for CRP (area under the curve (AUC), 0.717, P = 0.014; sensitivity, 57.1%; specificity, 84.0%) and 0.10 mIU/L for TSH (AUC, 0.752, P = 0.004; sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 46.0%) by ROC curve analysis for hypothyroidism. The factors under study were not associated with recurrence.
CRP and TSH were risk factors for hypothyroidism in SAT. Thyroid functions should be monitored closely for the early detection of hypothyroidism, especially in patients with CRP levels of more than 97.80 mg/L and TSH levels of less than 0.10 mIU/L.
Clara Lundetoft Clausen, Åse Krogh Rasmussen, Trine Holm Johannsen, Linda Maria Hilsted, Niels Erik Skakkebæk, Pal Bela Szecsi, Lise Pedersen, Thomas Benfield, and Anders Juul
The hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid hormone axis might be affected in COVID-19, but existing studies have shown varying results. It has been hypothesized that hyperinflammation, as reflected by the secretion of cytokines, might induce thyroid dysfunction among patients with COVID-19. We explored thyroid hormone involvement in the acute phase of symptomatic COVID-19 and its possible associations with cytokine levels and mortality risk. This was a single-center study of 116 consecutive patients hospitalized for moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease. Serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), and 45 cytokines/chemokines were measured in all patients within 3 days of admission. Data were extracted retrospectively through a manual review of health records. At admission, 95 (81.9%) were euthyroid; while 21 (18.1%) had biochemically thyroid dysfunction including subclinical thyrotoxicosis (n = 11), overt thyrotoxicosis (n = 2), hypothyroidism (n = 1), non-thyroidal illness (n = 2), and normal TSH but high free T4 (n = 5). TSH levels were inversely correlated with IL-8 (r s = –0.248), IL-10 (r s = –0.253), IL-15 (r s = –0.213), IP-10 (r s = –0.334), and GM-CSF (r s = –0.254). Moreover, IL-8 levels, IP-10, and GM-CSF were significantly higher in patients with serum TSH < 0.4 mIU/L. Lastly, a two-fold increment of IL-8 and IL-10 was associated with significantly higher odds of having TSH < 0.4 mIU/L (odds ratio 1.86 (1.11–3.10) and 1.78 (1.03–3.06)). Serum TSH was not associated with 30- or 90-day mortality. In conclusion, this study suggests that fluctuations of TSH levels in patients with COVID-19 may be influenced by circulating IL-8, IL-10, IL-15, IP-10, and GM-CSF as previously described in autoimmune thyroid diseases.
Jiashu Li, Aihua Liu, Haixia Liu, Chenyan Li, Weiwei Wang, Cheng Han, Xinyi Wang, Yuanyuan Zhang, Weiping Teng, and Zhongyan Shan
Thyroid dysfunction is a frequently found endocrine disorder among reproductively aged women. Subclinical hypothyroidism is the most common condition of thyroid disorders during pregnancy and is defined as manifesting a thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration exceeding the trimester-specific reference value, with a normal free thyroxine concentration. Here, we evaluated the prospective association between spontaneous miscarriage and first-trimester thyroid function. We conducted a case–control study (421 cases and 1684 controls) that was nested. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), thyroid-peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) status were measured. We found that higher TSH was related to spontaneous miscarriage (OR 1.21; 95% CI, 1.13–1.30, P < 0.001). Compared with women with TSH levels of 0.4–<2.5 mIU/L, the risk of miscarriage was increased in women with TSH levels of 2.5–<4.87 mIU/L (OR 1.47; 95% CI, 1.16–1.87) and TSH greater than 4.87 mIU/L (OR 1.97; 95% CI, 1.22–3.18). After controlling for the confounding factor, TPOAb positivity status and FT4, the results were similar. The present study showed that higher TSH was associated with miscarriage in early pregnancy. In fact, TSH levels between 2.5 and 4.87 mIU/L increased the risk for miscarriage, with TSH greater than 4.87 mIU/L increasing the risk even further.
Giorgio Radetti, Mariacarolina Salerno, Chiara Guzzetti, Marco Cappa, Andrea Corrias, Alessandra Cassio, Graziano Cesaretti, Roberto Gastaldi, Mario Rotondi, Fiorenzo Lupi, Antonio Fanolla, Giovanna Weber, and Sandro Loche
Thyroid function may recover in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT).
To investigate thyroid function and the need to resume l-thyroxine treatment after its discontinuation.
Nine Italian pediatric endocrinology centers.
148 children and adolescents (25 m and 123 f) with HT on treatment with l-thyroxine for at least one year.
Intervention and main outcome measure
Treatment was discontinued in all patients, and serum TSH and fT4 concentrations were measured at the time of treatment discontinuation and then after 2, 6, 12 and 24 months. Therapy with l-thyroxine was re-instituted when TSH rose >10 U/L and/or fT4 was below the normal range. The patients were followed up when TSH concentrations were between 5 and 10 U/L and fT4 was in the normal range.
At baseline, TSH was in the normal range in 139 patients, and was between 5 and 10 U/L in 9 patients. Treatment was re-instituted after 2 months in 37 (25.5%) patients, after 6 months in 13 patients (6.99%), after 12 months in 12 patients (8.6%), and after 24 months in an additional 3 patients (3.1%). At 24 months, 34 patients (34.3%) still required no treatment. TSH concentration >10 U/L at the time of diagnosis was the only predictive factor for the deterioration of thyroid function after l-thyroxine discontinuation.
This study confirms that not all children with HT need life-long therapy with l-thyroxine, and the discontinuation of treatment in patients with a TSH level <10 U/L at the time of diagnosis should be considered.
Xiaomin Nie, Yiting Xu, Xiaojing Ma, Yun Shen, Yufei Wang, and Yuqian Bao
A high level of free triiodothyronine (FT3) within the reference range may be a potential metabolic risk marker. However, the relationship between different fat depots and FT3 has remained unclear.
We aimed to explore the relationships between segmental fat distribution and FT3 in euthyroid middle-aged and elderly men and postmenopausal women.
A total of 891 subjects (394 men and 497 women) were enrolled. A bioelectrical impedance analyzer was used to measure total, trunk, arm and leg fat mass (FM) and fat percentage (fat%). The leg fat mass to trunk fat mass ratio (LTR) was calculated to evaluate the relative distribution of leg fat compared with that of trunk fat. Thyroid hormones were measured by electrochemical luminescence immunoassay.
FT3 in men did not change significantly with increases in LTR quartiles, while FT3 in women decreased significantly (P for trend = 0.004). In multivariate linear regression analysis, multiple metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors were adjusted. The LTR was negatively related to FT3 in women (P < 0.05). After further mutual adjustment for trunk fat and leg fat parameters, trunk FM and fat% were positively related to FT3, while leg FM and fat% were negatively related to FT3 in women (all P < 0.05).
In euthyroid postmenopausal women, trunk fat was positively correlated with FT3, whereas leg fat was negatively correlated with FT3. Our findings supported that a high level of FT3 within the reference range was related to adverse fat distribution.
Paraskevi Kazakou, Stavroula A Paschou, Theodora Psaltopoulou, Maria Gavriatopoulou, Eleni Korompoki, Katerina Stefanaki, Fotini Kanouta, Georgia N Kassi, Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos, and Asimina Mitrakou
Endocrine system plays a vital role in controlling human homeostasis. Understanding the possible effects of COVID-19 on endocrine glands is crucial to prevent and manage endocrine disorders before and during hospitalization in COVID-19-infected patients as well as to follow them up properly upon recovery. Many endocrine glands such as pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries have been found to express angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors, the main binding site of the virus. Since the pandemic outbreak, various publications focus on the aggravation of preexisting endocrine diseases by COVID-19 infection or the adverse prognosis of the disease in endocrine patients. However, data on endocrine disorders both during the phase of the infection (early complications) and upon recovery (late complications) are scarce. The aim of this review is to identify and discuss early and late endocrine complications of COVID-19. The majority of the available data refer to glucose dysregulation and its reciprocal effect on COVID-19 infection with the main interest focusing on the presentation of new onset of diabetes mellitus. Thyroid dysfunction with low triiodothyronine, low thyroid stimulating hormone, or subacute thyroiditis has been reported. Adrenal dysregulation and impaired spermatogenesis in affected men have been also reported. Complications of other endocrine glands are still not clear. Considering the recent onset of COVID-19 infection, the available follow-up data are limited, and therefore, long-term studies are required to evaluate certain effects of COVID-19 on the endocrine glands.
Laura van Iersel, Sarah C Clement, Antoinette Y N Schouten-van Meeteren, Annemieke M Boot, Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Bernd Granzen, K Sen Han, Geert O Janssens, Erna M Michiels, A S Paul van Trotsenburg, W Peter Vandertop, Dannis G van Vuurden, Hubert N Caron, Leontien C M Kremer, and Hanneke M van Santen
The incidence of cranial radiotherapy (cRT)–induced central hypothyroidism (TSHD) in childhood brain tumor survivors (CBTS) is reported to be low. However, TSHD may be more frequent than currently suspected, as its diagnosis is challenging due to broad reference ranges for free thyroxine (FT4) concentrations. TSHD is more likely to be present when FT4 levels progressively decline over time. Therefore, we determined the incidence and latency time of TSHD and changes of FT4 levels over time in irradiated CBTS.
Nationwide, 10-year retrospective study of irradiated CBTS.
TSHD was defined as ‘diagnosed’ when FT4 concentrations were below the reference range with low, normal or mildly elevated thyrotropin levels, and as ‘presumed’ when FT4 declined ≥ 20% within the reference range. Longitudinal FT4 concentrations over time were determined in growth hormone deficient (GHD) CBTS with and without diagnosed TSHD from cRT to last follow-up (paired t-test).
Of 207 included CBTS, the 5-year cumulative incidence of diagnosed TSHD was 20.3%, which occurred in 50% (25/50) of CBTS with GHD by 3.4 years (range, 0.9–9.7) after cRT. Presumed TSHD was present in 20 additional CBTS. The median FT4 decline in GH-deficient CBTS was 41.3% (P < 0.01) to diagnosis of TSHD and 12.4% (P = 0.02) in GH-deficient CBTS without diagnosed TSHD.
FT4 concentrations in CBTS significantly decline over time after cRT, also in those not diagnosed with TSHD, suggesting that TSHD occurs more frequently and earlier than currently reported. The clinical relevance of cRT-induced FT4 decline over time should be investigated in future studies.
Melinda Kertész, Szilárd Kun, Eszter Sélley, Zsuzsanna Nagy, Tamás Kőszegi, and István Wittmann
Type 2 diabetes is characterized, beyond the insulin resistance, by polyhormonal resistance. Thyroid hormonal resistance has not yet been described in this population of patients. Metformin is used to decrease insulin resistance, and at present, it is assumed to influence the effect of triiodothyronine, as well.
In this open-label, pilot, hypothesis-generating, follow-up study, 21 patients were included; all of them were euthyroid with drug naïve, newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Before and after 4 weeks of metformin therapy, fructosamine, homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), thyroid hormones, T3/T4 ratio, and TSH, as well as blood pressure and heart rate using ambulatory blood pressure monitor were measured. We also conducted an in vitro study to investigate the possible mechanisms of T3 resistance, assessing T3-induced Akt phosphorylation among normal (5 mM) and high (25 mM) glucose levels with or without metformin treatment in a human embryonal kidney cell line.
Metformin decreased the level of T3 (P < 0.001), the ratio of T3/T4 (P = 0.038), fructosamine (P = 0.008) and HOMA-IR (P = 0.022). All these changes were accompanied by an unchanged TSH, T4, triglyceride, plasma glucose, bodyweight, blood pressure, and heart rate. In our in vitro study, T3-induced Akt phosphorylation decreased in cells grown in 25 mM glucose medium compared to those in 5 mM. Metformin could not reverse this effect.
Metformin seems to improve T3 sensitivity in the cardiovascular system in euthyroid, type 2 diabetic patients, the mechanism of which may be supracellular.
Nikolina Zdraveska, Maja Zdravkovska, Violeta Anastasovska, Elena Sukarova-Angelovska, and Mirjana Kocova
Diagnostic re-evaluation is important for all patients with congenital hypothyroidism (CH) for determining the etiology and identifying transient CH cases. Our study is a first thyroxine therapy withdrawal study conducted in Macedonian CH patients for a diagnostic re-evaluation. We aimed to evaluate the etiology of CH, the prevalence of transient CH and identify predictive factors for distinguishing between permanent (PCH) and transient CH (TCH).
Materials and methods
Patients with CH aged >3 years underwent a trial of treatment withdrawal for 4 weeks period. Thyroid function testing (TFT), ultrasound and Technetium-99m pertechnetate thyroid scan were performed thereafter. TCH was defined when TFT remained within normal limits for at least 6-month follow-up. PCH was diagnosed when TFT was abnormal and classified according the imaging findings.
42 (55%) patients had PCH and 34 (45.0%) patients had TCH. Thyroid agenesia was the most prevalent form in the PCH group. Patients with TCH had lower initial thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) values (P < 0.0001); higher serum thyroxine levels (P = 0.0023) and lower mean doses of levothyroxine during treatment period (P < 0.0001) than patients with PCH. Initial TSH level <30.5 IU/mL and levothyroxine dose at 3 years of age <2.6 mg/kg/day were a significant predictive factors for TCH; sensitivity 92% and 100%, specificity 75.6% and 76%, respectively.
TCH presents a significant portion of patients with CH. Initial TSH value and levothyroxine dose during treatment period has a predictive role in differentiating TCH from PCH. Earlier re-evaluation, between 2 and 3 years age might be considered in some patients requiring low doses of levothyroxine.