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Open access

Luca Persani, Biagio Cangiano, and Marco Bonomi

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.

Open access

Qing Zhu, Jianbin Su, Xueqin Wang, Mengjie Tang, Yingying Gao, and Dongmei Zhang

Graves’ disease (GD), an organ-specific autoimmune disease, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) exhibits immunological and metabolic activities involved in the induction and maintenance of immune responses. We attempted to evaluate the relationship between GD and serum TNF-α and its soluble receptors (sTNFRs), soluble TNF receptor 1 and 2 (sTNF-R1 and sTNF-R2). A total of 72 GD patients and 72 matched healthy individuals were recruited for this study. Serum TNF-α and sTNFRs were measured by sandwich ELISA. In our study, no significant difference was observed in TNF-α, but sTNFRs were found to be significantly elevated in GD patients compared to healthy individuals. Serum sTNFR levels were positively correlated with free triiodothyronine (FT3) and free thyroxine (FT4), and TNF-α was negatively correlated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the GD group. It was also shown that thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) was positively correlated with TNF-α and sTNFRs. Spearman’s correlation analysis showed that only sTNF-R1 was positively correlated with complement C3. Multiple linear regression analysis suggests that serum levels of sTNF-R1 and FT4 may play an important role in the serum level of FT3. According to the median value of FT3 level, GD patients were further divided into a high FT3 group and a low FT3 group. The serum levels of sTNF-R1 in the high FT3 GD group were significantly higher than those in the low FT3 GD group. In conclusion, sTNFRs may play an important role in anti-inflammatory and immune response in GD.

Open access

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.

Open access

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.

Open access

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

Objective

Thyroid function may recover in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT).

Design

To investigate thyroid function and the need to resume l-thyroxine treatment after its discontinuation.

Setting

Nine Italian pediatric endocrinology centers.

Patients

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Open access

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

Objective

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.

Design

Nationwide, 10-year retrospective study of irradiated CBTS.

Methods

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).

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Open access

Nikolina Zdraveska, Maja Zdravkovska, Violeta Anastasovska, Elena Sukarova-Angelovska, and Mirjana Kocova

Background

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Open access

Xichang Wang, Xiaochun Teng, Chenyan Li, Yushu Li, Jing Li, Weiping Teng, Zhongyan Shan, and Yaxin Lai

Objective

To conduct a questionnaire survey of the current clinical practice for overt hyperthyroidism in China.

Methods

An online questionnaire survey was conducted in July 2020. The two questionnaires covered 35 and 8 questions about non-pregnancy and pregnancy clinical practice for overt hyperthyroidism, respectively.

Results

One thousand, two hundred fifty-six physicians participated. Chief physicians and associate chief physicians accounted for 58.6% of the participants. Approximately 95.2% of the respondents chose the thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) test to clarify the etiology of thyrotoxicosis, while only 27.0% of them chose radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU). In terms of treatment for non-pregnant patients, anti-thyroid drugs (ATDs) were the first choice, and most of the clinicians chose methimazole. Compared with clinicians in recent studies, Chinese physicians used serum TRAb to diagnose Graves’ disease more commonly, and there were obviously more physicians preferring ATDs. For maternal hyperthyroidism, most physicians preferred propylthiouracil administration before or during the first trimester, which is consistent with the 2016 American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines. In terms of the initial ATD dose, monitoring the treatment process, indications for ATD withdrawal and treatment of special cases, the preferences of Chinese physicians were generally consistent with the guidelines.

Conclusion

Chinese physicians can generally follow the ATA guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism. Moreover, there are small differences from foreign studies or the guidelines with respect to particular problems. These findings provide evidence for future clinical research in China.

Open access

Antonina Khoruzhenko, Françoise Miot, Claude Massart, Jacqueline Van Sande, Jacques Emile Dumont, Renaud Beauwens, and Alain Boom

Background

Long-term maintenance of functional activity of thyroid cells is an essential requirement for basic in vitro studies on the physiology and pathology of the thyroid. An important prerequisite of thyrocytes’ functional activity in vivo and in vitro is their follicle organization.

Aim

This study aimed at developing a method of cultivation of functionally active rat thyroid follicles in Matrigel under three-dimensional conditions.

Methods

Undamaged rat thyroid follicles were isolated by enzymatic digestion with collagenase/dispase, then embedded into Matrigel, and cultivated for 2 weeks. Thyroglobulin, thyroxine and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) localization were revealed by immunofluorescence analysis. Iodide organification was tested by protein-bound 125I (PBI) measurement.

Results

Integrity of the follicles was preserved during the whole period of cultivation and was confirmed by 3D reconstruction of ZO-1 localization. Thyroglobulin was detected in the thyrocyte cytoplasm, as well as in the intrafollicular lumen. Thyroxine was observed predominantly at the apical side of thyrocytes. Also, generated cultures were characterized by a high level of iodide organification: PB125I represented 39% of the total radioactivity in the Matrigel drop embedding the follicles; at the same time, methimazole almost totally inhibited this process (0.2% of total radioactivity).

Conclusion

The method of rat thyrocyte cultivation in Matrigel, as described here allows to maintain the structural integrity and the functional activity of thyroid follicles in vitro and could be used for wide ranges of basic and applied researches in thyroidology.

Open access

Maria Giannakou, Katerina Saltiki, Emily Mantzou, Eleni Loukari, Georgios Philippou, Konstantinos Terzidis, Charalampos Stavrianos, Miltiades Kyprianou, Theodora Psaltopoulou, Kalliopi Karatzi, and Maria Alevizaki

Objective

Increased oxidative stress has been described in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT). The aim of the present study was to investigate whether high oxidative stress is further influenced by obesity and dietary habits in euthyroid women with HT.

Methods

Two hundred eighteen consecutive euthyroid women with HT were studied and separated in two groups; 102 with thyroxine replacement and 114 without. For the evaluation of oxidative stress, total lipid peroxide levels in serum (TOS) were measured and recoded as ‘high TOS’ vs ‘medium/low TOS’. The type of food and consumption frequency were recorded. Two binary variables were considered; normal vs low fruit consumption and daily vs sporadic vegetable consumption.

Results

‘High TOS’ was more frequent in women under thyroxine replacement (31.4% vs 14.7%, OR = 2.7, 95% CI: 1.4–5.2). The prevalence of ‘high TOS’ was higher among overweight/obese women compared to women with normal BMI (30.4% vs 12.5%, OR = 3.1, 95% CI: 1.5–6.4). Low fruit consumption was associated with increased ‘high TOS’ prevalence (30.6% vs 12.9%, OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.4–6.2). Sporadic vegetable consumption was associated with increased ‘high TOS’ prevalence compared to daily consumption (29.9% vs 13.5%, OR = 2.7, 95% CI: 1.3–5.7). The examined risk factors were independent and additive in their effect on TOS. At least three risk factors had to be concomitantly present for the likelihood of ‘high TOS’ to be significantly elevated.

Conclusions

Oxidative stress is increased in women with HT under thyroxine replacement. Nevertheless, normal BMI, daily fruit and vegetable consumption, all contribute in maintaining oxidative stress at low levels.