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Thyroid dysfunction in a UK hepatitis C population treated with interferon-α and ribavirin combination therapy

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Summary Objective 

To assess the incidence of thyroid dysfunction (TD) in a UK cohort of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection treated with interferon-α (IFNα) and ribavirin combination therapy (IFN/RBV). Design, patients and measurements 

A retrospective study of 288 patients who received IFN/RBV for HCV during a 2-year period from January 2006 was performed. Thyroid function was assessed during a 24-week or 48-week course of IFN/RBV. If serum thyrotrophin (TSH) became undetectable (<0.01 mU/l) and serum free thyroxine (T4) was raised, a diagnostic thyroid isotope scan was performed. Results 

Full medical records were examined for 260 patients (172 men, 88 women) included in the study, of whom 22.3% (16.9% of men, 33.0% of women) developed TD during IFN/RBV. In total, 10.4% developed a suppressed serum TSH (0.8% Graves’ disease, 9.6% transient thyroiditis) while 11.9% developed an elevated serum TSH with 1.5% becoming permanently hypothyroid and requiring levothyroxine therapy. Women had a relative risk (RR) for developing TD of 1.96 (CI: 1.75–3.03, P = 0.004). A serum TSH ≥1.75 mU/l and a positive thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody titre pretherapy were associated with RRs for progression to TD of 6.02 (CI: 2.95–12.78, P < 0.0001) and 4.35 (CI: 2.58–6.52; P < 0.0001), respectively, while combination of baseline TSH and TPO antibody data predicted progression to TD with a sensitivity of 94.7%. Conclusions 

Although TD was common in this cohort, just 2.3% developed TD that required ongoing therapy. Pre-IFN/RBV serum TSH and TPO antibody titre were found to predict progression to TD in this group of patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Clinical Biochemistry 2: Centre for Hepatology 3: Pharmacy Department 4: Department of Endocrinology 5: Infectious Diseases Unit, The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, Pond Street, London, United Kingdom

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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