Recent research has shed light on the high probability of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) developing thyroid dysfunction.
According to recently published results from 167 patients with SLE who were evaluated for serum free levels of the thyroid hormones T3, T4 and Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH), 119 were found to have normal levels of the hormones, 11 patients had subclinical hyperthyroidism, 6 patients were found to have hyperthyroidism, 19 patients had subclinical hypothyroidism and 12 patients had clinical hypothyroidism.
The patients with abnormal levels of thyroid hormones were given additional confirmatory tests such as anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (Ab TG), anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (AbTPO) and thyrotropin receptor antibodies. Patients with SLE and hypothyroidism were found to have significantly higher Ab TG, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index and Systemic Lupus Activity Measure Index scores compared to patients with euthyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Though no overall association was seen between the groups and the proportions of serum Ab TG in them, a positive correlation was seen between disease activity and Ab TG, especially in patients with hypothyroidism, who had a higher frequency of Ab TG than those with hyperthyroidism.
Further, Ab TG was seen in one patient with hyperthyroidism, and one patient was positive for TSH receptor antibody and clinical characteristics of Grave’s disease.
With the propensity of a fair population of SLE patients towards abnormal thyroid functions, thyroid testing and evaluation of related parameters should be made a part of routine checks made on patients with SLE or for that matter, even rheumatoid arthritis.