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Autoimmune thyroid disease in systemic lupus erythematosus
  1. D Pyne,
  2. D A Isenberg
  1. Centre for Rheumatology, University College London, Arthur Stanley House, 4th Floor, 40–50 Tottenham Street, London W1P 9PJ, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Pyne


Background: The reported prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease (3.9–24%) and antithyroid antibodies (11–51%) in SLE varies considerably. Early reports were mainly based on short term studies of small cohorts.

Objective: To report the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid antibodies in 300 patients with SLE, followed up at our centre between 1978 and 2000, by a retrospective analysis of case notes.

Results: The prevalence (5.7%) of hypothyroidism in our cohort was higher than in the normal population (1%), while that of hyperthyroidism (1.7%) was not significantly different. Overall 42/300 (14%) of our cohort had thyroid antibodies, rising to 15/22 (68%) in the subgroup who also had thyroid disease (p<0.001). Both antimicrosomal and antithyroglobulin antibodies were detected. The antibodies were found in equally high frequency in the hyperthyroid subgroup (80% patients), whereas in the hypothyroid subgroup antimicrosomal antibodies were more frequent than antithyroglobulin antibodies (64% v 41%). There was no significant difference in the frequency with which antimicrosomal or antithyroglobulin antibodies were detected between the hyperthyroid and hypothyroid subgroups (p>0.2).

Conclusion: Our patients with SLE had a prevalence of hypothyroidism, but not hyperthyroidism, greater than that of the normal population. The presence of either condition was associated with a higher frequency of both antimicrosomal and antithyroglobulin antibodies.

  • thyroid disease
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • thyroid autoantibodies
  • ELISA, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay
  • SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone

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