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Thyroid function tests in chronic liver disease: evidence for multiple abnormalities despite clinical euthyroidism.
  1. M Borzio,
  2. R Caldara,
  3. F Borzio,
  4. V Piepoli,
  5. P Rampini,
  6. C Ferrari


    To further evaluate thyroid function in patients with liver disease, we have measured total and free T3 and T4, thyroxine binding globulin, basal and thyrotropin releasing hormone-stimulated thyrotropin and thyroglobulin antibodies in 33 patients with liver cirrhosis, in 22 with chronic hepatitis and in 30 healthy controls. All the patients but one were clinically euthyroid. T3, FT3, T3/thyroxine binding globulin and T4/thyroxine binding globulin ratios and thyrotropin after thyrotropin releasing hormone were significantly reduced, while FT4, thyroxine binding globulin and thyrotropin were significantly increased in liver cirrhosis. In chronic hepatitis group, FT3 and T3/thyroxine binding globulin ratio were significantly lower and thyroxine binding globulin and FT4 were higher than in healthy controls. The between patients comparison revealed a significantly lower T3, FT3, T3/thyroxine binding globulin and T4/thyroxine binding globulin ratios and delta thyrotropin in cirrhotics. Thyroglobulin antibodies were present at high titre only in two patients one of whom having evidence of Hashimoto's thyroiditis with subclinical hypothyroidism. The correlation coefficient between T4/thyroxine binding globulin ratio and FT4 were lower in patients than in controls. Furthermore an abnormal thyrotropin response to thyrotropin releasing hormone was shown in 10 cirrhotics and in four patients with chronic hepatitis. Serum T3 significantly correlated with serum bilirubin, albumin, and prothrombin time in both groups of patients. The present data confirm the existence of several abnormalities of thyroid function tests in patients with chronic liver disease, although showing that euthyroidism is almost always maintained, probably as a result of low-normal FT3 and high-normal FT4. Furthermore, T3 serum levels appear to parallel the severity of liver dysfunction.

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