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Jesper Karmisholt, Allan Carlé, and Stig Andersen

Background: Weight gain during treatment of hyperthyroidism is a frequent and for many patients unwanted outcome. With this repeated measurement study, we explored the timing of weight changes during the first year of antithyroid drug (ATD) treatment and assessed the correlation between body weight changes and changes in thyroid hormones, resting energy expenditure (REE), physical activity level, and energy efficiency. Methods: Patients with new onset hyperthyroidism were investigated every second month during the first year of ATD treatment. At each investigation, the following were measured: body weight, thyroid hormone concentrations, physical activity level, and daily number of steps, REE, and exercise performance. Results: Two men and eleven women, all sedentary, mean age 49(SD: 9.3) years were included. Significant changes after 1 year occurred for body weight (68.9–74.1 kg), thyroid hormones (free T3 [fT3] 17.5 to 4.42 pmol/L), REE (1,630–1,484 kcal/24 h), and energy efficiency at lower (50 W) workloads (16.0–17.6%). In individual patients, only REE and fT3 correlated to changes in body weight. Physical activity level did not change during treatment. Conclusion: In this study, treatment of hyperthyroidism was associated with marked increase in body weight in the patients. This increase correlated to a decrease in REE and only to a negligible extent to changes in energy efficiency and not at all to changes in physical activity level of daily living.

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Jesper Karmisholt and Stig Andersen

Guidelines suggest that subclinical hypothyroid (SCH) patients with thyrotropin (TSH) between 4 and 10 mU/L and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism should receive L-T4 substitution treatment, be evaluated, and continue treatment if symptoms subside. The latter requires detecting a true change in symptoms, which can be calculated from within-person variation in symptom evaluation tools. This led us to assess within-person variation in hypothyroid symptoms, in mood-related symptoms, and quality of life in patients with untreated SCH in order to support the recommended evaluations. Method: The within-person coefficient of variation (CV) was estimated from 13 consecutive monthly evaluations in 15 patients with initial TSH between 5 and 12 mU/L and no trend in TSH. Results: The within-person CV was rather large for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Zulewski hypothyroid score at 41.6 and 60.9%, respectively. For quality of life the within-person CV was lower at 8.0% for the physical component summary and 8.7% for the mental component summary from the SF-36 questionnaire. The difference required between two measurements to detect a true change was 97% for mood-related symptoms (HADS) and 140% for hypothyroid symptoms. For quality of life (SF-36) the required difference was 20%. Conclusion: Score differences of almost 100% and higher were required to support a true change in mood (HADS) and hypothyroid symptom scores in untreated SCH patients. For quality of life a true change was detected at a 20% difference in SF-36 scores. The hypothyroid score and HADS questionnaire do not seem useful for the evaluation of individuals.

Free access

Peter Laurberg, Nils Knudsen, Stig Andersen, Allan Carlé, Inge Bülow Pedersen, and Jesper Karmisholt

Important interaction exists between thyroid function, weight control, and obesity. Several mechanisms seem to be involved, and in studies of groups of people the pattern of thyroid function tests depends on the balance of obesity and underlying thyroid disease in the cohort studied. Obese people with a normal thyroid gland tend to have activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis with higher serum TSH and thyroid hormones in serum. On the other hand, small differences in thyroid function are associated with up to 5 kg difference in body weight. The weight loss after therapy of overt hypothyroidism is caused by excretion of water bound in tissues (myxoedema). Many patients treated for hyperthyroidism experience a gain of more weight than they lost during the active phase of the disease. The mechanism for this excessive weight gain has not been fully elucidated. New studies on the relation between L-T<sub>3</sub> therapy and weight control are discussed. The interaction between weight control and therapy of thyroid disease is important to many patients and it should be studied in more detail.

Free access

Allan Carlé, Nils Knudsen, Torben Jørgensen, Bettina Thuesen, Jesper Karmisholt, Stine Linding Andersen, and Inge Bülow Pedersen

Objective: To investigate the association between reproductive history and later development of various nosological subtypes of overt hyperthyroidism. Study Design: From the Danish population, we included incident hyperthyroid women, and for each case we recruited 4 euthyroid age-sex-region-matched controls from the same sub-population. Hyperthyroid cases/controls were: Graves’ disease (GD, n = 232/928), multinodular toxic goitre (MNTG, n = 91/364), solitary toxic adenoma (STA, n = 21/84). Patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism within 1 year after delivery including post-partum GD were excluded. In multivariate conditional regression models (reference: no reproductive events), we analysed the association between development of GD/MNTG/STA and reproductive factors such as age at menarche/menopause, reproductive span, number of pregnancies/childbirths/abortions, investigations for infertility, and years on oral contraceptives. We adjusted for possible confounders such as alcohol intake, smoking, co-morbidity, and education. Age was studied as a potential effect measure modifier. Results: GD patients diagnosed before the age of 40 years had given births more often than control subjects (OR [95% CI] for 1/2/3+ births [ref.: nulliparous] were 1.57 [0.80–3.11]/2.06 [1.001–4.22]/3.07 [1.50–6.26]), and they had induced abortions performed more often (OR for 1/2+ induced abortions [ref.: no: events] were 0.99 [0.54–1.84]/2.24 [1.12–4.45]). No associations were observed between any reproductive factor and the development of MNTG or STA. Conclusions: Childbirths and induced abortions may be followed by development of Graves’ hyperthyroidism after the post-partum period. This was not the case for the non-autoimmune subtypes of hyperthyroidism.

Open access

Stine Linding Andersen, Niels Henrik Bruun, Peter Astrup Christensen, Simon Lykkeboe, Aase Handberg, Annebirthe Bo Hansen, Maja Hjelm Lundgaard, Louise Knøsgaard, Nanna Maria Uldall Torp, Allan Carlé, Jesper Karmisholt, Inge Bülow Pedersen, Peter Vestergaard, and Stig Andersen


Thyroid disease in women of reproductive age is mainly of autoimmune origin, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO-Ab) as well as thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg-Ab) are key markers. Adding to this, much focus in pregnancy is on euthyroid women who are thyroid antibody positive. Evidence to substantiate the cut-offs for the definition of thyroid autoantibody positivity in early pregnant women is warranted.


Stored serum samples from 14,030 Danish pregnant women were used for the measurement of TPO-Ab, Tg-Ab, TSH, and free thyroxine (ADVIA Centaur XPT, Siemens Healthineers). Among all women, a reference cohort of 10,905 individuals was identified for the establishment of antibody cut-offs. Percentile cut-offs for TPO-Ab and Tg-Ab were determined using regression on order statistics (the reference cohort). The established cut-offs were then applied (the full cohort), and frequencies of early pregnancy as well as later diagnosis of hypothyroidism were evaluated.


The highest established cut-offs (95th, 97.5th, and 99th percentiles) were 59, 68, and 81 U/mL for TPO-Ab and 33, 41, and 52 U/mL for Tg-Ab. When the cut-offs were applied in the full cohort, 11.0, 10.2, and 9.7% were TPO-Ab positive, whereas 13.3, 12.3, and 11.2% were Tg-Ab positive. Antibody-positive women (TPO-Ab and/or Tg-Ab) had higher median TSH and were more likely to have hypothyroidism in early pregnancy and to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism during follow-up.


This large study established and evaluated pregnancy-specific cut-offs for TPO-Ab and Tg-Ab. The findings are important regarding the classification of exposure in pregnancy and assessment of thyroid autoimmunity per se.