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Flashcards in Thyroid Deck (56):

Describe the regulation of thyroid hormone production.

Hypothalamus >
TRH -->
Ant Pit >
TSH -->
Thyroid gland >

T3/T4 inhibits secretion of TRH

T4 converted to T3 in liver

T3/T4 can be conjugated with glucuronide and sulfate in liver and excreted in the bile


What secretes TSH?

thyrotrope cells in the ant pit


Describe the structure of TSH

Glycoprotein with an alpha and beta subunit


Alpha subunit of TSH is identical to subunits for


only variability is in glycosylation


What is unique to SH and determines its receptor specificity

beta subunit


what is the receptor for TSH

thyroid follicular cells


What are the steps in thyroid hormone biosynthesis?

NaCL symporter to absorb I->
Thyroglobulin secretion>
Iodine gets oxidated>
Iodination with TPO>
proteolysis to make tyroxine and triodothyronine>
transported to blood


What percent of thyroid hormone is synthesized as T4 vs T3?

T4 90%
T3 9%
rT3 1 %


How is 80% of T3 made?

peripheral deiodination of T4


how is rT3 made?

periophaeral deiodination of T4


What % of T4 is bound to TBG/TTR/Alb?

TBG + T4 = 75%
T4-TTr = 10%
T4-albumine = 12%


What % of T3 is bound to TBG/TTR/Alb?

TBG + T3 = 80%
T3-TTr = 5%
T3-albumine = 15%


A 47 year old female presents to her primary care physician complaining of palpitations and diaphoresis.

What is the best test for screening for thyroid disease?

Thyrotropin(TSH) is the SINGLE BEST TEST for assessing thyroid function
– Very SMALL changes in free T4 induce large reciprocal changes in TSH


Why is it recommended to measure free T4, rather than total T4, total T3 or free T3 to initially assess active hormone levels?

• Measurement of T4 is preferred over T3 due to the excess of T4
– 100 times as much total T4 as total T3 – 10 times as much free T4 as free T3

• >99.9% of T4 is bound to protein and biologically inactive
– A variety of conditions can alter thyroid hormone‐ binding protein levels
– This causes changes in total T4 but free T4 remains the same


Is there a rationale for measuring total T3 or free T3? If you did want to measure T3 would it be preferable to order total or free T3?

In most cases of hyperthyroidism, patients have elevated T4 and T3, so free T4 measurement is sufficient

There are occasional patients who have T3 toxicosis:
– Low TSH, normal FT4, elevated free T3 and total T3
– Thought to represent early stages of hyperthyroidism or be due to an autonomous nodule
- If a patient appears hyperthyroid clinically, but FT4 is normal, consider assessing T3


Is total T3 preferred or FT3?

Total T3 is preferred over FT3, as assays for FT3 are less widely validated

However, if the patient has a known altered distribution of binding proteins that would affect total T3, free T3 should be measured instead


What are causes of hyperthyroidism with NORMAL or HIGH radioidodine uptake??

Toxic adenoma/toxic multinodular goiter
Iodine induced
Secondary to trophoblastic dz or GCT
TSH producing pituitary adenoma


What are causes of hyperthyroidism with near ABSENT radioiodine uptake?

exogenous hyperthyrodism
ectopic hyperthyroidism (struma ovarii, metatstic thryoid cancer)


What is the typical presentation of a
patient with hyperthyroidism?

Anxiety, emotional lability, tremor, palpitations, weakness, heat intolerance, diaphoresis, weight loss, hyperdefecation, urinary frequency, oligo‐ or amenorrhea


What features should one look for on physical exam to help with the differential diagnosis?

– Hyperactivity and rapid speech
– Lid retraction and lid lag from sympathetic hyperactivity
– Thyroid exam
– Look for evidence of Graves’:
• Exophthalmos (proptosis – forward displacement of eye)
• Periorbital/conjunctival edema
• Pretibial myxedema


What tests could be ordered next to determine the cause of hyperthyroidism?

• If patient has an enlarged thyroid, ophthalmopathy and severe hyperthyroidism, further evaluation is unnecessary (Graves)
• Thyroid uptake and scan
• Thyroid ultrasound
• Measurement of Graves’‐related autoantibodies
• Repeat TSH, free T4


What does the ATA/AACE recommend as the first line test if clinical presentation is not diagnostic of Graves?

Thyroid uptake
Thyroid scan can be added if nodularity


When should you measure graves related autoAbs

Only when uptake and scan are unavailable or contraindicated


What autoantibodies are found in patients with thyroid disease?

Anti‐thyroid peroxidase (Anti-TPO)
anti‐thyroglobulin antibodies (Anti-TG)
Auto‐antibodies to the TSH (thyrotropin) receptor (TRAb)


What, if any role, do autoAbs found in patients with thyroid disease play in the pathophysiology?

Anti‐TPO and anti‐Tg are markers of autoimmune thyroid damage and not causative of disease, whereas TSI cause Graves’ disease pathology


Where are Anti-TPO and anti TG found?

– Found in autoimmune thyroid disorders ‐ Graves’ disease AND Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
– Thought to be secondary to the thyroid damage caused by infiltrating lymphocytes


How do auto Abs to the TSH receptor (TRAb) cause GRaves?

– Can be stimulating, neutral or blocking
– Stimulating Abs cause Graves’ disease by binding to TSH receptor, leading to thyroid hormone synthesis and secretion, as well as growth of the gland (diffuse goiter)

– Blocking antibodies can be found in patients with Hashimoto’s
but their causative role in hypothyroidism debated


What is the frequency of Ab detection in Graves vs Hashimotos thyroiditis?

Anti-TPO: 80% vs > 90%
Anti TG: 40-70% vs > 90%
Anti TRab: 100% (stimulating) vs 10-15% blocking


What tests are available to measure thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins?

– Quantitation of the amount of TSH receptor antibodies in patient serum
– Bioassay which measures the stimulatory effect of the antibodies on TSH‐responsive cells


What are the pros/cons of quantifying the amount of TSH receptor Abs?

• Pros: quick, less expensive

• Cons: Quantitates stimulating, blocking and neutral TSH
receptor antibodies


What are the pros and cons of hte bioassy?

• Incubate patient serum with the cells and normal control serum
• Reported as an index (or ratio)
• Pros: Specific for detection of stimulating antibodies only
• Cons: Expensive, time‐consuming assay


How does hte TSI bioassay work?

• ModifiedTSH receptor binds stimulating Abs but NOT blocking Abs

• Increases cAMP which activates a cAMP‐ responsive promoter
• Leads to production of LUCIFERASE

• Cells incubated with patient serum and normal control serum and an index TSI bioassay
or ratio is reported


Patient has the following:
• US: Borderline enlarged right lobe with 2.5 cm nodule
• Uptake and scan:
– Uptake measured at 24 hours: 63.1% (10‐30%)
– Diffuse increased uptake with decreased uptake in the right thyroid nodule
• TSI index: 5.4 (≤ 1.3)
• TSH: ≤ 0.02 mU/L (0.4 – 4 mU/L)
• FT4: 6.92 ng/dL (0.7 – 1.85 ng/dL)
• Anti‐TPO: 1927 IU/mL (< 35 IU/mL)
• Anti‐Tg: 50 IU/mL (< 40 IU/mL)


Graves’ disease:
– Elevated TSI index
– Increased diffuse uptake


How does reflex testing work?
What is the thyroid reflex testing algorithm here at the U of M?

Reflex testing triggers
the automatic ordering of a follow up test(s) if the initial test is abnormal

Most laboratories will offer reflex to FT4 if there is an abnormal TSH (4)


HOw do you interpret these lab results?

TSH: 9.68 mU/L (0.45 – 4.0 mU/mL)
FT4: 0.9 ng/dL (0.7 – 1.5 ng/dL)

Subclinical hypothyroidism
– Defined by a normal FT4 in the presence of an elevated TSH
– Prevalence ranges from 3‐8 %, increases with age


What are the causes of subclinical hypothyroidism?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis)
Subacute, postpartum or painless thyroiditis
Thyroid injury from surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, external radiotherapy to head or neck
Drugs impairing thyroid function
Inadequate replacement therapy for over hypothyroidism
Thyroid infiltration (i.e. amyloidosis, sarcoidosis, hemochromatosis, etc.) Central hypothyroidism with impaired TSH bioactivity
Toxic substances
TSH receptor gene mutations


What should be done for a pt withs subclinical hypothyroidism?

Expert panel recommendation:
– Comprised of endocrinologists and other specialists
– Do not treat patients with TSH between 4.5 and 10 mIU/L
– Monitor patients between 4.5‐10 mIU/L every 6‐12 months

• Also recommended measurement of anti‐TPO antibodies to predict risk of development of overt hypothyroidism or associated autoimmune disease


Ho do you interpret these Ab results? When are these tests considered most useful?

– Thyroid peroxidase antibody: 1749 (< 35 IU/mL) – Thyroglobulin antibody: 50 (< 40 IU/mL)

Hashimoto's thyroiditis (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis)

in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism as they are at higher risk for progressing to permanent overt hypothyroidism


stored as a colloid and provides tyrosine residues for T3 and T4 synthesis



catalyzes iodination of tyrosine residues of thyroglobulin



Nearly all pts with Hashimoto thyroiditis have high serum concentrations of ...

anti-TG and anti-TPO


What is the pathophysiology of Hashimoto thyroiditis?

• Profuse lymphocytic infiltration, lymphoid germinal centers and destruction of thyroid follicles
– Both T and B lymphocytes involved
• Central pathological phenomenon is thyroid‐cell death by cytotoxic T cells
• Therefore the antibodies are considered secondary to the thyroid damage inflicted by T cells


How would you interpret the following lab results?
TSH: 2.8 mU/L (0.45 – 2.5 mU/mL) FT4: 0.9 ng/dL (0.7 – 1.5 ng/dL)

• Did you notice that the upper limit of TSH was changed from 4.0 to 2.5? Did this affect your instinctual interpretation of the result?
• There is considerable debate about the upper limit of the reference range for TSH
• NHANES III study showed that after excluding individuals with diseases or factors known to affect thyroid hormone levels, 95% of the reference population had TSH levels between 0.3‐2.5 mIU/L
– In 2002 the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry recommended the upper limit be lowered from 4‐5 mIU/L to 2.5 mIU/L
– In 2003 the AACE recommmended the upper limit be lowered from 4‐5 mIU/L to 3.0 mIU/L


What are arguments for lowering the upper limit?

– Higher rate of thyroid autoimmunity in patients with TSH > 3 mIU/L
– Higher rate of progression to overt thyroid disease in patients with TSH > 3 mIU/L


What are arguments against lowering the upper limit?

– Mild elevations of TSH are sometimes reversible
– Expense of therapy without proven benefit
– Additional 20 million Americans diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism
– Possibility of overtreatment by primary care physicians who see an abnormal lab value and react


What are the current recommendations for screening for hypothyroidism in nonpregnant adults?

No real concensus so...

One suggested approach is to screen those with:
– Symptoms of hypothyroidism
– Risk factors of hypothyroidism
-- patients taking drugs which may impair thyroid function


A 47 yo F notices a bump on her neck and complains of diffiuclty swallowing. A thyroid nodule is palpable.

What testing should be ordered next?

TSH and thyroid US


What is the ddx for a thyroid nodule? Benign vs malignant?

Multinodular (sporadic) goiter (“colloid adenoma”)
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Cysts: Colloid, simple or hemorrhagic
Follicular adenomas
Hurthle‐cell adenomas

Papillary carcinoma
primary thyroid lymphoma
metastatic carcinoma (breast, renal cell, etc.)


If a thyroid US reveals a 2.1 cm left thyroid nodule but a normal TSH what should be done next?



What percent of thyroid nodules are found to be cancerous? What groups have a higher prevalence of cancerous nodules?

• 4 – 6.5 % of thyroid nodules are cancerous
• Cancer prevalence is higher in:
– Children
– Adults < 30 years old or > 60 years old
– Patients with a history of head and neck
– Patients with a family history of thyroid cancer


What test(s) could be used to monitor the patient for residual or recurrent cancer?

Serum thyroglobulin has supplanted the uptake scan as a marker of tumor persistence or tumor recurrence for differentiated thyroid cancer
– For follicular, papillary and Hurthle cell cancer
– Synthesized only by the thyroid follicular cells so a specific marker of thyroid tissue
– Serum Tg concentration is dependent on the mass of thyroid tissue present
– Recommended to use the same assay/lab to monitor over time due to wide variability between assays


Why might this patient’s thyroglobulin be slightly above expected levels post‐thyroidectomy and ablation?

• Residual cancer
• Anti‐thyroglobulin antibodies
– Thyroglobulin antibodies can interfere with
measurement of thyroglobulin
– 20 – 25% of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer have anti‐Tg
– Results can vary differently depending on type of thyroglobulin assay used
– Radioimmunoassays can have falsely high or low thyroglobulin results
– Immunometric assays can have falsely low results


Why can RIA give you both a falsely high TG and falsely low TG?

– Falsely high Tg: if patient has anti‐Tg antibodies and little/no Tg, the anti‐ Tg antibodies will bind up radiolabeled Tg and decrease bound signal
Patient anti‐Tg
– Falsely low Tg: if patient has anti‐Tg and high Tg, anti‐Tg will bind patient Tg results in increase bound signal


Why may IMA give you a falsely low TG?

– Falsely low Tg: if patient has anti‐Tg antibodies, it will bind up the patient Tg


What should you do if a RIA assay shows that thyroglobulina nd anti-TG levels are declining?

continue to monitor every 6‐12 months and do occasional radiographic studies as clinically indicated


What should you do if thyroglobulina nd anti-TG levels are stable or rising?

consider imaging