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Thyroid. 1991;1(2):157-61.

Susceptibility to subacute thyroiditis is genetically influenced: familial occurrence in identical twins.

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  • 1Section of Endocrinology, Lahey Clinic Medical Center, Burlington, Massachusetts.


Subacute thyroiditis is thought to be virally induced in genetically predisposed individuals because a strong association has been suggested recently between HLA-B35 and patients in whom subacute thyroiditis has developed. Two identical twin brothers were seen at our clinic with the same symptoms and date of onset of hyperthyroidism and enlargement and tenderness of the thyroid, which gave us a unique opportunity to study the genetic predisposition and treatment of this thyroid disease. Diagnostic criteria for subacute thyroiditis were met in both twins, including hyperthyroxinemia, suppression of thyroidal 123I uptake, increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate, transient painful goiter, and absence of antimicrosomal antibodies. Twin B was treated with corticosteroids, and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent was prescribed for Twin A. The mode of treatment used did not make a difference in affecting the course of the disease. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate was normal after 2 months from onset of symptoms. Results of viral studies were inconclusive. The same HLA typing was found in each twin: A3, B18, B35, Cw4, DR2, DRw10, DQw1. Thus, each was heterozygous for HLA-B35. We reviewed the literature and found a strong association between HLA-B35 and subacute thyroiditis in various ethnic groups tested. Our experience with these identical twins provides additional evidence to suggest that HLA-35 and perhaps Cw4 confer genetic susceptibility in acquiring subacute painful thyroiditis in a possible dominant mode of inheritance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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