Subclinical hypothyroidism is a common finding when serum thyrotropin and thyroid hormones are measured, but the benefits of treating such patients with levothyroxine remain unproven. During the 14th International Thyroid Congress, a debate and discussion relating to three different clinical case scenarios of subclinical hypothyroidism was held. The audience consisted predominantly of members of the European Thyroid Association. Participants (n = 380) voted using an electronic system to express their opinion about the treatment of the 3 cases. For a 53-year-old woman with fatigue and difficulty losing weight, who has a serum TSH of 6.8 mU/l, 49% would treat with levothyroxine. Whereas, for an 84-year-old woman with a serum TSH of 6.8 mU/l, only 8% of participants would treat with levothyroxine. In contrast, for a 39-year-old woman who is trying to become pregnant, with a serum TSH of 4.5 mU/l and strongly positive thyroid peroxidase antibodies, 95% of respondents would treat with levothyroxine. This article details the clinical case scenarios and the results of the thyroidologists’ opinions on treatment. It forms a snapshot of the range of accepted clinical practice in this common condition.
Tremelimumab and ipilimumab are monoclonal antibodies directed against the extracellular domain of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and have been used as immunotherapies against immune checkpoints that suppress T-cell activation. Anti-CTLA-4 antibody-based therapies have been shown to be effective in treating various cancers including metastatic melanoma. However, a few immune-related adverse events including hypophysitis and thyroid disorder have been reported, mostly developed within the first year of receiving treatment. We report a case of tremelimumab-induced Graves hyperthyroidism in a 55-year-old man who was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma after 8 years of tremelimumab therapy. He had no personal or family history of thyroid or autoimmune diseases. His biochemical profile was in keeping with Graves disease, with raised serum free thyroid hormones, suppressed thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration, and raised thyrotropin receptor antibody level. He was treated with carbimazole as part of the block and replace therapy, without complications. Tremelimumab therapy was temporarily discontinued and recommenced when he was rendered biochemically euthyroid. There has been no further relapse of Graves hyperthyroidism since the discontinuation of block and replace therapy. The mechanistic profile of anti-CTLA-4-induced thyroid dysfunction and the long-term endocrine safety of this therapeutic approach remain unclear. It is important to monitor thyroid functions in patients receiving anti-CTLA-4 therapies, as their effects on endocrine systems could be more latent or prolonged than the data from current clinical trials suggest. Antithyroid drug therapy was safe and effective alongside anti-CTLA-4 therapy without compromising antitumour treatment efficacy.
Background: International societies have recommended that levothyroxine should not routinely be prescribed in older individuals for the management of mild subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH). However, it is unknown whether clinicians managing people with SCH are either aware of or adhere to these guidelines. Methods: A web-based survey of members of several international thyroid associations and general practitioners in North-East England was conducted. Respondents were presented with a vignette of an 80-year-old gentleman with mild persistent SCH experiencing tiredness. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate predictors of awareness of guidelines and responses to treatment. Results: The survey response rate was 21.9% (565/2,583). Only 7.6% of clinicians were unaware of guidelines regarding management of SCH in older people. Twenty percent of clinicians stated that they would treat the older patient with mild SCH, whereas 13% were unsure. Clinicians from North America were more likely to treat the older person with mild SCH than clinicians from elsewhere (OR 2.24 [1.25–3.98]). Likewise, non-endocrinologists were also more likely than endocrinologists to treat the older person with mild SCH (OR 3.26 [1.45–6.47]). Conclusion: The majority of clinicians are aware of guidelines regarding management of SCH in older individuals. However, a considerable proportion of clinicians would still treat an older person with non-specific symptoms and mild SCH. These guidelines need to be disseminated more widely and more research is required to understand barriers to adherence to international recommendations.
Lorna IngoeDepartment of Endocrinology, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, Gateshead, United Kingdom
Department of Endocrinology, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Introduction: Serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) increases with age but target TSH is similar in younger and older hypothyroid patients on treatment. It is unknown if quality of life (QoL), hypothyroid symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors change in older hypothyroid patients treated to an age-appropriate reference range. Objective: To assess if a higher target serum TSH of 4.01–8.0 mU/L is feasible in, and acceptable to, older treated hypothyroid patients. Methods: A single-blind (participant) randomised controlled feasibility trial involving 48 hypothyroid patients aged ≥80 years on established and stable levothyroxine (LT4) therapy with serum TSH levels within the standard reference range (0.4–4.0 mU/L) was conducted. Standard (0.4–4.0 mU/L) or higher (4.1–8.0 mU/L) TSH target (standard TSH [ST] or higher TSH [HT] groups) LT4 for 24 weeks was administered. The outcome measures evaluated were thyroid function tests, QoL, hypothyroid symptoms, cardiovascular risk factors and serum marker of bone resorption in participants that completed the trial (n = 21/24 ST group, n = 19/24 HT group). Results: At 24 weeks, in the ST and HT groups, respectively, median (interquartile range) serum TSH was 1.25 (0.76–1.72) and 5.50 (4.05–9.12) mU/L, mean (± SD) free thyroxine (FT4) was 19.4 ± 3.5 and 15.9 ± 2.4 pmol/L, and daily LT4 dose was 82.1 ± 26.4 and 59.2 ± 23.9 µg. There was no suggestion of adverse impact of a higher serum TSH in the HT group with regard to any of the outcomes assessed. Conclusions: In hypothyroid patients aged ≥80 years on LT4 therapy for 24 weeks, there was no evidence that a higher target serum TSH was associated with an adverse impact on patient reported outcomes, cardiovascular risk factors or bone resorption marker over 24 weeks. Longer-term trials assessing morbidity and mortality outcomes and health-utility in this age group are feasible and should be performed.
Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) should be considered in two categories according to the elevation in serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level: mildly increased TSH levels (4.0-10.0 mU/l) and more severely increased TSH value (>10 mU/l). An initially raised serum TSH, with FT<sub>4</sub> within reference range, should be investigated with a repeat measurement of both serum TSH and FT<sub>4</sub>, along with thyroid peroxidase antibodies, preferably after a 2- to 3-month interval. Even in the absence of symptoms, replacement therapy with <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine is recommended for younger patients (<65-70 years) with serum TSH >10 mU/l. In younger SCH patients (serum TSH <10 mU/l) with symptoms suggestive of hypothyroidism, a trial of <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine replacement therapy should be considered. For such patients who have been started on <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine for symptoms attributed to SCH, response to treatment should be reviewed 3 or 4 months after a serum TSH within reference range is reached. If there is no improvement in symptoms, <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine therapy should generally be stopped. Age-specific local reference ranges for serum TSH should be considered in order to establish a diagnosis of SCH in older people. The oldest old subjects (>80-85 years) with elevated serum TSH ≤10 mU/l should be carefully followed with a wait-and-see strategy, generally avoiding hormonal treatment. If the decision is to treat SCH, then oral <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine, administered daily, is the treatment of choice. The serum TSH should be re-checked 2 months after starting <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine therapy, and dosage adjustments made accordingly. The aim for most adults should be to reach a stable serum TSH in the lower half of the reference range (0.4-2.5 mU/l). Once patients with SCH are commenced on <smlcap>L</smlcap>-thyroxine treatment, then serum TSH should be monitored at least annually thereafter.
Juliane LégerDepartment of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Reference Center for Rare Endocrine Growth and Development Diseases, Endo-ERN HCP, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Robert Debré University Hospital, University of Paris, NeuroDiderot Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Paris, France
Hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease (GD) is a relatively rare disease in children. Treatment options are the same as in adults – antithyroid drugs (ATD), radioactive iodine (RAI) or thyroid surgery, but the risks and benefits of each modality are different. The European Thyroid Association guideline provides new recommendations for the management of pediatric GD with and without orbitopathy. Clinicians should be alert that GD may present with behavioral changes or declining academic performance in children. Measurement of serum TSH receptor antibodies is recommended for all pediatric patients with hyperthyroidism. Management recommendations include the first-line use of a prolonged course of methimazole/carbimazole ATD treatment (3 years or more), a preference for dose titration instead of block and replace ATD, and to avoid propylthiouracil use. Where definitive treatment is required either total thyroidectomy or RAI is recommended, aiming for complete thyroid ablation with a personalized RAI activity. We recommend avoiding RAI in children under 10 years of age but favor surgery in patients with large goiter. Pediatric endocrinologists should be involved in all cases.
Graves’ disease (GD) is a systemic autoimmune disorder characterized by the infiltration of thyroid antigen-specific T cells into thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSH-R)-expressing tissues. Stimulatory autoantibodies (Ab) in GD activate the TSH-R leading to thyroid hyperplasia and unregulated thyroid hormone production and secretion. Diagnosis of GD is straightforward in a patient with biochemically confirmed thyrotoxicosis, positive TSH-R-Ab, a hypervascular and hypoechoic thyroid gland (ultrasound), and associated orbitopathy. In GD, measurement of TSH-R-Ab is recommended for an accurate diagnosis/differential diagnosis, prior to stopping antithyroid drug (ATD) treatment and during pregnancy. Graves’ hyperthyroidism is treated by decreasing thyroid hormone synthesis with the use of ATD, or by reducing the amount of thyroid tissue with radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment or total thyroidectomy. Patients with newly diagnosed Graves’ hyperthyroidism are usually medically treated for 12–18 months with methimazole (MMI) as the preferred drug. In children with GD, a 24- to 36-month course of MMI is recommended. Patients with persistently high TSH-R-Ab at 12–18 months can continue MMI treatment, repeating the TSH-R-Ab measurement after an additional 12 months, or opt for therapy with RAI or thyroidectomy. Women treated with MMI should be switched to propylthiouracil when planning pregnancy and during the first trimester of pregnancy. If a patient relapses after completing a course of ATD, definitive treatment is recommended; however, continued long-term low-dose MMI can be considered. Thyroidectomy should be performed by an experienced high-volume thyroid surgeon. RAI is contraindicated in Graves’ patients with active/severe orbitopathy, and steroid prophylaxis is warranted in Graves’ patients with mild/active orbitopathy receiving RAI.