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Ann Rheum Dis. 2002 Jan;61(1):70-2.

Autoimmune thyroid disease in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Centre for Rheumatology, University College London, Arthur Stanley House, 4th Floor, 40-50 Tottenham Street, London W1P 9PJ, UK.



The reported prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease (3.9-24%) and antithyroid antibodies (11-51%) in SLE varies considerably. Early reports were mainly based on short term studies of small cohorts.


To report the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid antibodies in 300 patients with SLE, followed up at our centre between 1978 and 2000, by a retrospective analysis of case notes.


The prevalence (5.7%) of hypothyroidism in our cohort was higher than in the normal population (1%), while that of hyperthyroidism (1.7%) was not significantly different. Overall 42/300 (14%) of our cohort had thyroid antibodies, rising to 15/22 (68%) in the subgroup who also had thyroid disease (p<0.001). Both antimicrosomal and antithyroglobulin antibodies were detected. The antibodies were found in equally high frequency in the hyperthyroid subgroup (80% patients), whereas in the hypothyroid subgroup antimicrosomal antibodies were more frequent than antithyroglobulin antibodies (64% v 41%). There was no significant difference in the frequency with which antimicrosomal or antithyroglobulin antibodies were detected between the hyperthyroid and hypothyroid subgroups (p>0.2).


Our patients with SLE had a prevalence of hypothyroidism, but not hyperthyroidism, greater than that of the normal population. The presence of either condition was associated with a higher frequency of both antimicrosomal and antithyroglobulin antibodies.

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