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Dig Dis Sci. 1983 Nov;28(11):971-5.

Increased incidence of hypothyroidism in primary biliary cirrhosis.


We examined the thyroid status of 58 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) using total serum thyroxin, thyroid hormone binding ratio, free thyroxin index, serum TSH, antithyroglobulin, and antimicrosomal antibodies. Seven patients were known to be hypothyroid prior to the diagnosis of PBC. Six additional patients were found to have biochemical evidence of hypothyroidism. The prevalence of hypothyroidism was 12% if we include only those six PBC patients with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism or 22% if we include all 13 patients. Five of the 58 patients had evidence for an elevation of thyroid hormone binding capacity. Three hypothyroid patients had normal total thyroxins with low thyroid hormone binding ratios. Two euthyroid patients had elevated total T4s with low thyroid hormone binding ratio and normal FTI. The prevalence of positive antimicrosomal antibodies was 34%, including 11 euthyroid PBC patients. The prevalence of positive antithyroglobulin antibodies was 20% including five euthyroid patients. There was no association between HLA DR3 or DR5 and the patients with hypothyroidism and/or antithyroid antibodies. Because fatigue, lethargy, and anorexia as well as hypercholesterolemia are common features of both hypothyroidism and PBC, patients with PBC should be screened for evidence of thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid disease may precede the diagnosis of PBC by several years. Therefore, the development of cholestatic liver disease in a patient with known autoimmune thyroiditis should arouse suspicion of PBC.

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