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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prenatal diagnosis of thyroid hormone resistance.

A 29-yr-old woman with pituitary resistance to thyroid hormones (PRTH) was found to harbor a novel point mutation (T337A) on exon 9 of the thyroid hormone receptor beta (TRbeta) gene. She presented with symptoms and signs of hyperthyroidism and was successfully treated with 3,5,3'-triiodothyroacetic acid (TRIAC) until the onset of pregnancy. This therapy was then discontinued in order to prevent TRIAC, a compound that crosses the placental barrier, from exerting adverse effects on normal fetal development. However, as the patient showed a recurrence of thyrotoxic features after TRIAC withdrawal, we sought to verify, by means of genetic analysis and hormone measurements, whether the fetus was also affected by RTH, in order to rapidly reinstitute TRIAC therapy, which could potentially be beneficial to both the mother and fetus. At 17 weeks gestation, fetal DNA was extracted from chorionic villi and was used as a template for PCR and restriction analysis together with direct sequencing of the TRbeta gene. The results indicated that the fetus was also heterozygous for the T337A mutation. Accordingly, TRIAC treatment at a dose of 2.1 mg/day was restarted at 20 weeks gestation. The mother rapidly became euthyroid, and the fetus grew normally up to 24 weeks gestation. At 29 weeks gestation mild growth retardation and fetal goiter were observed, prompting cordocentesis. Circulating fetal TSH was very high (287 mU/L) with a markedly reduced TSH bioactivity (B/I: 1.1 +/- 0.4 vs 12.7 +/- 1.2), while fetal FT4 concentrations were normal (8.7 pmol/L; normal values in age-matched fetuses: 5-22 pmol/L). Fetal FT3 levels were raised (7.1 pmol/L; normal values in age-matched fetuses: <4 pmol/L), as a consequence of 100% cross-reactivity of TRIAC in the FT3 assay method. To reduce the extremely high circulating TSH levels and fetal goiter, the dose of TRIAC was increased to 3.5 mg/day. To monitor the possible intrauterine hypothyroidism, another cordocentesis was performed at 33 weeks gestation, showing that TSH levels were reduced by 50% (from 287 to 144 mU/L). Furthermore, a simultaneous ultrasound examination revealed a clear reduction in fetal goiter. After this latter cordocentesis, acute complications occured, prompting delivery by cesarean section. The female neonate was critically ill, with multiple-organ failure and respiratory distress syndrome. In addition, a small goiter and biochemical features ofhypothyroidism were noted transiently and probably related to the prematurity of the infant. At present, the baby is clinically euthyroid, without goiter, and only exhibits biochemical features of RTH. In summary, although further fetal studies in cases of RTH are necessary to determine whether elevated TSH levels with a markedly reduced bioactivity are a common finding, our data suggest transient biochemical hypothyroidism in RTH during fetal development. Furthermore, we advocate prenatal diagnosis of RTH and adequate treatment of the disease in case of maternal hyperthyroidism, to avoid fetal thyrotrope hyperplasia, reduce fetal goiter, and maintain maternal euthyroidism during pregnancy.[1]


  1. Prenatal diagnosis of thyroid hormone resistance. Asteria, C., Rajanayagam, O., Collingwood, T.N., Persani, L., Romoli, R., Mannavola, D., Zamperini, P., Buzi, F., Ciralli, F., Chatterjee, V.K., Beck-Peccoz, P. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1999) [Pubmed]
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