To assess in a pediatric population, the clinical characteristics and management of triiodothyronine-predominant Graves' disease (T3-P-GD), a rare condition well known in adults, but not previously described in children.
We conducted a university hospital-based observational study.
All patients with GD followed for more than 1 year between 2003 and 2013 (n=60) were included. T3-P-GD (group I) was defined as high free T3 (fT3) concentration (>8.0 pmol/l) associated with a normal free thyroxine (fT4) concentration and undetectable TSH more than 1 month after the initiation of antithyroid drug (ATD) treatment. Group II contained patients with classical GD without T3-P-GD.
Eight (13%) of the patients were found to have T3-P-GD, a median of 6.3 (3.0–10.5) months after initial diagnosis (n=4) or 2.8 (2.0–11.9) months after the first relapse after treatment discontinuation (n=4). At GD diagnosis, group I patients were more likely to be younger (6.8 (4.3–11.0) vs 10.7 (7.2–13.7) years) and had more severe disease than group II patients, with higher serum TSH receptor autoantibodies (TRAb) levels: 40 (31–69) vs 17 (8–25) IU/l, P<0.04, and with slightly higher serum fT4 (92 (64–99) vs 63 (44–83) pmol/l) and fT3 (31 (30–46) vs 25 (17–31) pmol/l) concentrations. During the 3 years following T3-P-GD diagnosis, a double dose of ATD was required and median serum fT4:fT3 ratio remained lower in group I than in group II.
Severe hyperthyroidism, with particularly high TRAb concentrations at diagnosis, may facilitate the identification of patients requiring regular serum fT3 determinations and potentially needing higher doses of ATD dosage during follow-up.