Discordant hypothyroxinemia and hypertriiodothyroninemia in treated patients with hyperthyroid Graves' disease.

Research paper by J J JJ Chen, P W PW Ladenson

Indexed on: 01 Jul '86Published on: 01 Jul '86Published in: The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism


Hypothyroxinemia and hypertriiodothyroninemia may occur in the course of antithyroid drug or 131I treatment for hyperthyroid Graves' disease. To determine the frequency of combined high serum T3 and low serum T4 concentrations during such treatment and to assess the clinical significance of its recognition, we reviewed 60 patients treated for hyperthyroid Graves' disease with antithyroid drugs (n = 43) or radioactive iodine (n = 17). Six of these patients (10%) were found to have high serum T3 and low serum T4 concentrations during therapy. Four were receiving antithyroid drugs, and 2 had received radioactive iodine. At the time this abnormality occurred, 4 patients were euthyroid, 1 was hypothyroid, and 1 was hyperthyroid. The serum TSH concentration was increased in 2, at the upper limit of normal in 1, and undetectable in 3 patients. In 2 clinically euthyroid patients, these biochemical findings resolved spontaneously. After discontinuation or reduction in the dose of antithyroid drug, clinical and chemical euthyroidism was restored in 2 additional patients with previously elevated TSH levels. In 2 patients, both of whom previously had undetectable serum TSH levels, clinical hyperthyroidism persisted or recurred, and additional therapy was required. No patient developed permanent hypothyroidism during the period of follow-up (1-22 months). An additional 19 of the 60 patients (32%) had an elevated serum T3 level with a normal serum T4 concentration during the course of follow-up. Among these 19 patients, the magnitude of serum T3 elevation was not different between clinically euthyroid (n = 13) and hyperthyroid (n = 6) patients. We conclude that discordance of serum T4 and T3 concentrations is frequently encountered in patients with hyperthyroid Graves' disease during or after therapy. In such patients, the low serum T4 level does not predict hypothyroidism, nor does a high serum T3 level predict hyperthyroidism. Furthermore, the serum T3 concentration in these patients correlates poorly with their clinical thyroid status.