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Open access

Ilaria Muller, Carla Moran, Beatriz Lecumberri, Brigitte Decallonne, Neil Robertson, Joanne Jones, and Colin M. Dayan

Thyroid dysfunction (TD) frequently occurs as an autoimmune complication of immune reconstitution therapy (IRT), especially in individuals with multiple sclerosis treated with alemtuzumab, a pan-lymphocyte depleting drug with subsequent recovery of immune cell numbers. Less frequently, TD is triggered by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or patients undergoing bone-marrow/hematopoietic-stem-cell transplantation (BMT/HSCT). In both alemtuzumab-induced TD and HIV/HAART patients, the commonest disorder is Graves’ disease (GD), followed by hypothyroidism and thyroiditis; Graves’ orbitopathy is observed in some GD patients. On the contrary, GD is rare post-BMT/HSCT, where hypothyroidism predominates probably as a consequence of the associated radiation damage. In alemtuzumab-induced TD, the autoantibodies against the thyrotropin receptor (TRAb) play a major role, and 2 main aspects distinguish this condition from the spontaneous form: (1) up to 20% of GD cases exhibit a fluctuating course, with alternating phases of hyper- and hypothyroidism, due to the coexistence of TRAb with stimulating and blocking function; (2) TRAb are also positive in about 70% of hypothyroid patients, with blocking TRAb responsible for nearly half of the cases. The present guidelines will provide up-to-date recommendations and suggestions dedicated to all phases of IRT-induced TD: (1) screening before IRT (recommendations 1–3); (2) monitoring during/after IRT (recommendations 4–7); (3) management of TD post-IRT (recommendations 8–17). The clinical management of IRT-induced TD, and in particular GD, can be challenging. In these guidelines, we propose a summary algorithm which has particular utility for nonspecialist physicians and which is tailored toward management of alemtuzumab-induced TD. However, we recommend prompt referral to specialist endocrinology services following diagnosis of any IRT-induced TD diagnosis, and in particular for pregnant women and those considering pregnancy.

Free access

Ilaria Muller, Lucy S. Kilburn, Peter N. Taylor, Peter J. Barrett-Lee, Judith M. Bliss, Paul Ellis, Marian E. Ludgate, and Colin M. Dayan

Background: Small-scale studies correlated the presence of thyroid autoimmunity with both improved or worsened breast cancer outcome. Objectives: We aimed to clarify this association in a large cohort using the phase III, randomized, controlled Taxotere as Adjuvant Chemotherapy Trial (TACT, CRUK01/001). Methods: TACT women >18 years old with node-positive or high-risk node-negative early breast cancer (pT1–3a, pN0–1, M0), with stored plasma (n = 1,974), taken 15.5 (median; IQR 7.0–24.0) months after breast surgery were studied. Patients had also received chemotherapy (100%), radiotherapy (1,745/1,974; 88.4%), hormonal therapy (1,378/ 1,974; 69.8%), or trastuzumab (48/1,974; 2.4%). History of thyroid diseases and/or related treatments was not available. The prognostic significance of autoantibodies to thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb; positive ≥6 kIU/L), free-thyroxine and thyrotropin (combined: euthyroid, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid) was evaluated for disease-free survival (DFS), overall-survival (OS), and time-to-recurrence (TTR), with Cox regression models in univariate and multivariable analyses. The extended median follow-up was 97.5 months. Results: No difference in DFS was found by TPOAb status (unadjusted hazard ratio [HR]: 0.97, 95%CI: 0.78–1.19; p = 0.75) and/or thyroid function (unadjusted HR [hypothyroid vs. euthyroid]: 1.15, 95% CI: 0.79–1.68; p = 0.46; unadjusted HR [hyperthyroid vs. euthyroid]: 1.14, 95% CI: 0.82–1.61; p = 0.44). Similar results were obtained for OS, TTR, multivariable analyses, when TPOAb titre by tertiles was considered, and in a subgroup of 123 patients with plasma collected before adjuvant treatments. Conclusions: No evidence for a prognostic role of TPOAb and/or thyroid function in moderate-to-high-risk early breast cancer was found in the largest and longest observational study to date.

Open access

Ilaria Muller, Anita Daturi, Matteo Varallo, Tiziana E Re, Davide Dazzi, Sara Maioli, Erica Crivicich, Francesco Di Marco, Virgilio Longari, Beatrice Dazzi, Massimo Castellani, Giovanna Mantovani, Maura Arosio, and Mario Salvi


We have previously observed thyroid dysfunction, i.e. atypical thyroiditis (painless thyrotoxicosis associated with non-thyroidal illness syndrome), in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 disease (Covid-19). This study aimed to analyse the evolution of thyroid dysfunction over time.


One hundred eighty-three consecutive patients hospitalised for severe Covid-19 without known thyroid history were studied at hospital admission (baseline). Survivors were offered 12-month longitudinal follow-up including assessment of thyroid function, autoantibodies and ultrasound scan (US). Patients showing US focal hypoechoic areas suggestive of thyroiditis (focal hypoechogenicity) also underwent thyroid 99mTc or 123I uptake scan.


At baseline, after excluding from TSH analysis, 63 out of 183 (34%) Covid-19 patients commenced on steroids before hospitalisation, and 12 (10%) showed atypical thyroiditis. Follow-up of 75 patients showed normalisation of thyroid function and inflammatory markers and no increased prevalence of detectable thyroid autoantibodies. Baseline US (available in 65 patients) showed focal hypoechogenicity in 28% of patients, of whom 82% had reduced thyroid 99mTc/123I uptake. The presence of focal hypoechogenicity was associated with baseline low TSH (P = 0.034), high free-thyroxine (FT4) (P = 0.018) and high interleukin-6 (IL6) (P = 0.016). Focal hypoechogenicity persisted after 6 and 12 months in 87% and 50% patients, respectively, but reduced in size. After 9 months, thyroid 99mTc/123I uptake partially recovered from baseline (+28%) but was still reduced in 67% patients.


Severe Covid-19 induces mild transient thyroid dysfunction correlating with disease severity. Focal hypoechogenicity, associated with baseline high FT4, IL6 and low TSH, does not seem to be related to thyroid autoimmunity and may persist after 1 year although decreasing in size. Long-term consequences seem unlikely.