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Open access

Marek Niedziela

The term 'hyperthyroidism' refers to a form of thyrotoxicosis due to inappropriate high synthesis and secretion of thyroid hormone(s) by the thyroid. The leading cause of hyperthyroidism in adolescents is Graves’ disease (GD); however, one should also consider other potential causes, such as toxic nodular goitre (single or multinodular), and other rare disorders leading to excessive production and release of thyroid hormones. The term 'thyrotoxicosis' refers to a clinical state resulting from inappropriate high thyroid hormone action in tissues, generally due to inappropriate high tissue thyroid hormone levels. Thyrotoxicosis is a condition with multiple aetiologies, manifestations, and potential modes of therapy. By definition, the extrathyroidal sources of excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, such as iatrogenic thyrotoxicosis, factitious ingestion of thyroid hormone, or struma ovarii, do not include hyperthyroidism. The aetiology of hyperthyroidism/and thyrotoxicosis should be determined. Although the diagnosis is apparent based on the clinical presentation and initial biochemical evaluation, additional diagnostic testing is indicated. This testing should include: (1) measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) antibodies (TRAb); (2) analysis of thyroidal echogenicity and blood flow on ultrasonography; or (3) determination of radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU). A 123I or 99mTc pertechnetate scan is recommended when the clinical presentation suggests toxic nodular goitre. A question arises regarding whether diagnostic workup and treatment (antithyroid drugs, radioiodine, surgery, and others) should be the same in children and adolescents as in adults, as well as whether there are the same goals of treatment in adolescents as in adults, in female patients vs in male patients, and in reproductive or in postreproductive age. In this aspect, different treatment modalities might be preferred to achieve euthyroidism and to avoid potential risks from the treatment. The vast majority of patients with thyroid disorders require life-long treatment; therefore, the collaboration of different specialists is warranted to achieve these goals and improve patients’ quality of life.

Open access

Alessandro Brancatella and Claudio Marcocci

Thyroid hormones stimulate bone turnover in adults by increasing osteoclastic bone resorption. TSH suppressive therapy is usually applied in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) to improve the disease outcome. Over the last decades several authors have closely monitored the potential harm suffered by the skeletal system. Several studies and meta-analyses have shown that chronic TSH suppressive therapy is safe in premenopausal women and men. Conversely, in postmenopausal women TSH suppressive therapy is associated with a decrease of bone mineral density, deterioration of bone architecture (quantitative CT, QCT; trabecular bone score, TBS), and, possibly, an increased risk of fractures. The TSH receptor is expressed in bone cells and the results of experimental studies in TSH receptor knockout mice and humans on whether low TSH levels, as opposed to solely high thyroid hormone levels, might contribute to bone loss in endogenous or exogenous thyrotoxicosis remain controversial. Recent guidelines on the use of TSH suppressive therapy in patients with DTC give value not only to its benefit on the outcome of the disease, but also to the risks associated with exogenous thyrotoxicosis, namely menopause, osteopenia or osteoporosis, age >60 years, and history of atrial fibrillation. Bone health (BMD and/or preferably TBS) should be evaluated in postmenopausal women under chronic TSH suppressive therapy or in those patients planning to be treated for several years. Antiresorptive therapy could also be considered in selected cases (increased risk of fracture or significant decline of BMD/TBS during therapy) to prevent bone loss.

Open access

Muthiah Subramanian, Manu Kurian Baby, and Krishna G Seshadri

Antithyroid drugs (ATDs) have been shown to attenuate the effectiveness of radioiodine (radioiodine ablation, RIA) therapy in Graves' disease. We undertook a study to look at the impact of iodine uptakes on the outcome of 131I therapy. To determine the effect of prior ATD use on the duration of time to achieve cure in patients with high vs intermediate uptake Graves' disease who received a fixed dose (15 mCi) of 131I radioiodine. In a retrospective study of patients with Graves' disease, 475 patients who underwent RIA were followed-up on a two-monthly basis with thyroid function tests. Of the 123 patients with a documented preablation RAIU and consistent follow-up it was observed that 40 patients had an intermediate RAIU (10–30%) and 83 subjects had a distinctly increased uptake (>30%). Successful cure was defined as the elimination of thyrotoxicosis in the form of low free thyroxin and rising TSH levels. When a standard dose of 15 mCi 131I was administered, a cure rate of 93% was achieved. The median duration of time to cure (TC) was 129 days. Surprisingly, a direct proportional linear relationship (R 2=0.92) was established between time to cure and radioiodine uptake (TC> 3 0%=172days, TC10 3 0%=105 days, P<0.001). Patients who used ATD medications took a proportionately longer duration to achieve remission (TCNO ATD=102days, TCATD=253days, P<0.001). The effect of prior ATD therapy in delaying remission was amplified in the subset of patients with higher uptakes (TC> 3 0% + ATD=310days, TC> 3 0% + NO ATD=102days, P<0.001) compared to those with the intermediate uptakes (TC10 3 0% + ATD=126 days, TC10 3 0% + NO ATD=99 days, P<0.001). RIA, using a dose of 15 mCi achieved a high cure rate. Higher uptakes predicted longer time to achieve remission, with prior ATD use amplifying this effect.

Open access

Verônica Carneiro Borges Mioto, Ana Carolina de Castro Nassif Gomes Monteiro, Rosalinda Yossie Asato de Camargo, Andréia Rodrigues Borel, Regina Maria Catarino, Sergio Kobayashi, Maria Cristina Chammas, and Suemi Marui

Objectives

Iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with obstetric and neonatal adverse outcomes. Serum thyroglobulin (sTg) and thyroid volume (TV) are optional tools to urinary iodine concentration (UIC) for defining iodine status. This cross-sectional study aims to evaluate the iodine status of pregnant women living in iodine-adequate area by spot UIC and correlation with sTg, TV and thyroid function.

Methods

Two hundred and seventy-three pregnant women were evaluated at three trimesters. All had no previous thyroid disease, no iodine supplementation and negative thyroperoxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies. Thyroid function and sTg were measured using electrochemiluminescence immunoassays. TV was determined by ultrasonography; UIC was determined using a modified Sandell–Kolthoff method.

Results

Median UIC was 146 µg/L, being 52% iodine deficient and only 4% excessive. TSH values were 1.50 ± 0.92, 1.50 ± 0.92 and 1.91 ± 0.96 mIU/L, respectively, in each trimester (P = 0.001). sTg did not change significantly during trimesters with median 11.2 ng/mL and only 3.3% had above 40 ng/mL. Mean TV was 9.3 ± 3.4 mL, which positively correlated with body mass index, but not with sTg. Only 4.5% presented with goitre.

When pregnant women were categorized as iodine deficient (UIC < 150 µg/L), adequate (≥150 and <250 µg/L) and excessive (≥250 µg/L), sTg, thyroid hormones and TV at each trimester showed no statistical differences.

Conclusions

Iodine deficiency was detected frequently in pregnant women living in iodine-adequate area. sTg concentration and TV did not correlate to UIC. Our observation also demonstrated that the Brazilian salt-iodization programme prevents deficiency, but does not maintain iodine status within adequate and recommended ranges for pregnant women.

Open access

Norra Kwong, Ellen Marqusee, Michael S Gordon, P Reed Larsen, Jeffrey R Garber, Matthew I Kim, and Erik K Alexander

Well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma (WDTC) generally has a favorable prognosis. However, patients with distant metastatic disease experience progression of disease with a higher mortality. A subset of patients not previously described may challenge the conventional dogma regarding the progressive nature of all metastatic WDTC. Through analysis of our database, we identified patients with distant metastatic WDTC and persistent, minimally progressive disease. In all patients, persistent metastatic disease was confirmed via tissue biopsy, abnormal PET scan, and/or biochemical elevations in thyroglobulin or antibody levels. Progression of disease was monitored clinically and with repeat imaging. We describe five patients with WDTC and pulmonary metastases, aged 8–43 years at diagnosis. All patients underwent initial surgery and radioactive iodine (RAI) ablation, with some receiving multiple treatments. Persistent pulmonary metastatic disease was confirmed over decades (mean 22 years, range 8–42 years) with minimal progression despite no further treatment beyond thyroid hormone suppression. Persistent disease was biopsy-proven in all patients at a mean of 9.6 years from last RAI treatment. All patients had elevated thyroglobulin or anti-thyroglobulin antibody levels, while three demonstrated metabolically active disease with positive FDG uptake on PET scan, and one patient with persistent radioactive iodine avid pulmonary metastasis 36 years after her last RAI treatment. This case series demonstrates that some patients with distant metastases, even if metabolically active and radioactive iodine resistant, remain stable for decades without further treatment. Clinical awareness of such patients and continual reassessment of disease risk following initial therapy are crucial as aggressive treatment may not be necessary.

Open access

Ningning Gong, Cuixia Gao, Xuedi Chen, Yu Wang, and Limin Tian

The purpose of our study was to observe adipokine expression and endothelial function in subclinical hypothyroidism (sHT) rats and to determine whether levothyroxine (LT4) treatment affects these changes. Sixty-five male Wistar rats were randomly divided into five groups: the control group; sHT A, B and C groups and the sHT + T4 group. The sHT rats were induced by methimazole (MMI) and the sHT + T4 rats were administered LT4 treatment after 8 weeks of MMI administration. Thyroid function and lipid levels were measured using radioimmunoassays and enzymatic colorimetric methods, respectively. Serum adiponectin (APN), chemerin, TNF-α, endothelin (ET-1) and nitric oxide (NO) levels were measured using ELISA kits and a nitric-reductive assay. The expression of APN, chemerin and TNF-α in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was measured in experimental rats using RT-PCR and Western blotting. Hematoxylin–eosin (HE) staining was used to observe changes in adipose tissue. The sHT rats had significantly higher levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), TNF-α, chemerin, ET-1, total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and lower levels of APN and NO than those in control and sHT + T4 rats. Based on Pearson correlation analysis, the levels of chemerin, TNF-α, ET-1, LDL-C, TC and triglyceride (TG) were positively correlated with TSH, but APN and NO levels were negatively correlated with TSH. These findings demonstrated that high TSH levels contribute to the changes of adipokines and endothelial dysfunction in sHT, but LT4 treatment ameliorates those changes.

Open access

Sahar Hossam El Hini, Yehia Zakaria Mahmoud, Ahmed Abdelfadel Saedii, Sayed Shehata Mahmoud, Mohamed Ahmed Amin, Shereen Riad Mahmoud, and Ragaa Abdelshaheed Matta

Objective: Angiopoietin-like protein (ANGPTL) 3,4,8 are upcoming cardiovascular biomarkers. Experimental studies showed thyroid hormones altered their levels. We assessed: ANGPTL3,4,8 as predictor of cardiovascular functions among naïve-subclinical and naïve-overt hypothyroidism [SCH and OH]; and altered ANGPTL levels with levothyroxine replacement (LT4) and their association with improved cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular function.

Design and Methods: Prospective follow-up study assessed ANGPTL3,4,8 levels, vascular status (flow mediated dilation% of brachial artery (FMD%), carotid intima media thickness (CIMT), aortic stiffness index (ASI)), left ventricle (LV) parameters (ejection fraction (EF), myocardial performance index (MPI), LV mass), well-known cardiovascular risk factors and HOMA-IR, at two time points: among naïve -SCH, naïve-OH and healthy subjects groups; and at six months after achieved euthyroid state with LT4 with calculating their increased or decreased delta changes (∆↑ or ∆↓) in longitudinal arm among LT4- hypothyroid groups.

Results: Significantly elevated ANGPTL3,4 and 8 among hypothyroid groups than healthy subjects were reduced with LT4. Multivariate analysis revealed ANGPTLs as independent predictors of cardiovascular functions and the contributors for ANGPTL levels: ANGPTL3,4 for impaired FMD% and ANGPTL8 for LVmass among naïve-SCH; ANGPTL3 for EF% and ANGPTL8 for CIMT in naïve-OH; ∆↓ ANGPTL3 for ∆↓ ASI meanwhile ∆↑ freeT4 for ∆↓ ANGPTL3, ∆↓ fasting glucose, ∆↓ triglyceride and ∆↓ thyroid peroxidase antibody for ∆↓ ANGPTL4 among LT4-SCH. ∆↓ ANGPTL4 for ∆↓ MPI and ∆↓ LVmass meanwhile ∆↓ TSH and ∆↓ triglyceride for ∆↓ ntributors for ANGPTL level: ANGPTL3,4 for impaired FMD% and ANGPTL8 for LVmass among naïve-SCH; ANGPTL3 for EF% and g LT4-OH.

Conclusion: Elevated ANGPTL3,4,8 levels are differentially independent predictors of endothelial and cardiac function and reduced with LT4 in SCH and OH.

Open access

Ulla Schmidt, Birte Nygaard, Ebbe Winther Jensen, Jan Kvetny, Anne Jarløv, and Jens Faber

Background

A recent randomized controlled trial suggests that hypothyroid subjects may find levothyroxine (l-T4) and levotriiodothyronine combination therapy to be superior to l-T4 monotherapy in terms of quality of life, suggesting that the brain registered increased T3 availability during the combination therapy.

Hypothesis

Peripheral tissue might also be stimulated during T4/T3 combination therapy compared with T4 monotherapy.

Methods

Serum levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), pro-collagen-1-N-terminal peptide (PINP), and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) (representing hepatocyte, osteoblast, and cardiomyocyte stimulation respectively) were measured in 26 hypothyroid subjects in a double-blind, randomized, crossover trial, which compared the replacement therapy with T4/T3 in combination (50 μg T4 was substituted with 20 μg T3) to T4 alone (once daily regimens). This was performed to obtain unaltered serum TSH levels during the trial and between the two treatment groups. Blood sampling was performed 24 h after the last intake of thyroid hormone medication.

Results

TSH remained unaltered between the groups ((median) 0.83 vs 1.18 mU/l in T4/T3 combination and T4 monotherapy respectively; P=0.534). SHBG increased from (median) 75 nmol/l at baseline to 83 nmol/l in the T4/T3 group (P=0.015) but remained unaltered in the T4 group (67 nmol/l); thus, it was higher in the T4/T3 vs T4 group (P=0.041). PINP levels were higher in the T4/T3 therapy (48 vs 40 μg/l (P<0.001)). NT-proBNP did not differ between the groups.

Conclusions

T4/T3 combination therapy in hypothyroidism seems to have more metabolic effects than the T4 monotherapy.

Open access

John E M Midgley, Rolf Larisch, Johannes W Dietrich, and Rudolf Hoermann

Several influences modulate biochemical responses to a weight-adjusted levothyroxine (l-T4) replacement dose. We conducted a secondary analysis of the relationship of l-T4 dose to TSH and free T3 (FT3), using a prospective observational study examining the interacting equilibria between thyroid parameters. We studied 353 patients on steady-state l-T4 replacement for autoimmune thyroiditis or after surgery for malignant or benign thyroid disease. Peripheral deiodinase activity was calculated as a measure of T4–T3 conversion efficiency. In euthyroid subjects, the median l-T4 dose was 1.3 μg/kg per day (interquartile range (IQR) 0.94,1.60). The dose was independently associated with gender, age, aetiology and deiodinase activity (all P<0.001). Comparable FT3 levels required higher l-T4 doses in the carcinoma group (n=143), even after adjusting for different TSH levels. Euthyroid athyreotic thyroid carcinoma patients (n=50) received 1.57 μg/kg per day l-T4 (IQR 1.40, 1.69), compared to 1.19 μg/kg per day (0.85,1.47) in autoimmune thyroiditis (P<0.01, n=76) and 1.08 μg/kg per day (0.82, 1.44) in patients operated on for benign disease (P< 0.01, n=80). Stratifying patients by deiodinase activity categories of <23, 23–29 and >29 nmol/s revealed an increasing FT3–FT4 dissociation; the poorest converters showed the lowest FT3 levels in spite of the highest dose and circulating FT4 (P<0.001). An l-T4-related FT3–TSH disjoint was also apparent; some patients with fully suppressed TSH failed to raise FT3 above the median level. These findings imply that thyroid hormone conversion efficiency is an important modulator of the biochemical response to l-T4; FT3 measurement may be an additional treatment target; and l-T4 dose escalation may have limited success to raise FT3 appropriately in some cases.

Open access

Peter D Mark, Mikkel Andreassen, Claus L Petersen, Andreas Kjaer, and Jens Faber

Purpose

The aim of this study was to investigate structure and function of the heart in subclinical hyperthyroidism (SH) before and after obtaining euthyroidism by radioactive iodine treatment, using high precision and observer-independent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

Methods

Cardiac MRI was performed before and after euthyroidism was obtained by radioactive iodine treatment in 12 otherwise healthy patients (11 women and one man, mean age 59 years, range 44–71 years) with a nodular goiter and SH, and compared with eight healthy controls investigated at baseline. Cardiac data were expressed as an index, as per body surface area, except for heart rate (HR) and ejection fraction.

Results

Post-treatment cardiac MRI was performed in median 139 days after a normalized serum TSH value had been recorded. During treatment, serum TSH increased from (median (range)) 0.01 (0.01–0.09) to 0.88 (0.27–3.99) mU/l. Patients with untreated SH had increased resting HR (P<0.01) as well as cardiac index (cardiac output as per body surface area) (P<0.01) compared with controls. Obtaining euthyroidism resulted in a significant decrease in left ventricular mass index (LVMI) of 2.7 g/m2 (P=0.034), in HR of 8 bpm (P=0.001), and in cardiac index of 0.24 l/min per m2 (P=0.017).

Conclusions

Normalization of thyroid function by radioactive iodine treatment of SH resulted in significant reductions in clinically important heart parameters such as LVMI, HR, and cardiac index. SH should be regarded as a condition in which aggressive treatment should be considered to protect cardiac function.