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Atherosclerosis. 2003 Feb;166(2):379-86.

Elevated C-reactive protein and homocysteine values: cardiovascular risk factors in hypothyroidism? A cross-sectional and a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospitals, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland.


Hypothyroidism is associated with premature atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Recently, total homocysteine (tHcy) and C-reactive protein (CRP) emerged as additional cardiovascular risk factors. We first investigated CRP and tHcy in different severities of primary hypothyroidism and in a second study we evaluated the effect of L-thyroxine treatment in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. One hundred and twenty-four hypothyroid patients (63 with subclinical, 61 with overt hypothyroidism, OH) and 40 euthyroid controls were evaluated. CRP was measured using a latex-based high sensitivity immunoassay; tHcy was determined by a fluorescence polarization immunoassay. tHcy values were significantly elevated in OH (P=0.01). In SCH tHcy levels were not augmented as compared to controls. CRP values were significantly increased in OH (P=0.016) and SCH (P=0.022) as compared to controls. In a univariate analysis tHcy correlated significantly with fT4, vitamin B12, folic acid and creatinine levels. In multiple regression analysis only fT4 (beta=0.33) had a significant effect on tHcy. CRP did not correlate with thyroid hormones. In SCH, L-T4 replacement had no significant effect on either tHcy or CRP levels. This is the first paper to show that CRP values increase with progressive thyroid failure and may count as an additional risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease in hypothyroid patients. In contrast to overt disease, only CRP, but not tHcy values, are affected in SCH, yet without significant improvement after L-thyroxine therapy.

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