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.