A case of transient hypothyroidism: Sequential serum measurements of autoantibodies inhibiting thyrotropin-stimulated thyroid cAMP production in a neonate

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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Abstract.

Transient neonatal hypothyroidism has been observed in three successive offspring of a mother with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroxine replacement therapy was initiated in a 23-year-old woman with overt clinical and laboratory findings of non-goitrous primary hypothyroidism. While on such treatment, she gave birth to three infants manifesting hypothyroidism immediately after birth. The neonates were treated with thyroxine replacement therapy which was discontinued in the three siblings at ages 2½ years, 3½ years, and 13 months. Continuous observation following cessation of therapy revealed clinical and biochemical euthyroidism in the children. Thyroid scanning during the neonatal period in the first child failed to identify functional thyroid tissue, suggesting thyroid agenesis, whereas thyroid scan performed on subsequent follow-up revealed a normal gland. Sequential serum measurements of autoantibodies directed towards the thyrotropin receptor were made in the mother and third child by a cAMP bioassay. High titres (five-six fold above normal) of blocking antibodies (tested by measuring the inhibition of TSH-stimulated cAMP production of cultured human thyroid cells by serum immunoglobulin preparations) were present in the mother and newborn 10 days after birth. The levels remained persistently high in the mother, whereas they declined and were undetectable in the child at four months. Thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin was absent in both mother and child. The data are compatible with transient neonatal hypothyroidism caused by transplacental transfer of antibodies which block thyroid response to TSH. The half-life of the maternally-derived blocking antibody in the infant was estimated as 1-2 months. This is the first report on sequential serum measurements and estimate of half-life of the blocking antibodies performed by a cAMP bioassay (using thyroid cells of human origin). Unlike the radioreceptor assay employed so far in such cases, this assay can distinguish between stimulating and blocking TSH receptor antibodies.

 

     European Society of Endocrinology

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