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Kidney Int. 2003 May;63(5):1944-7.

Impact of thyroid dysfunction on serum cystatin C.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



Serum cystatin C (CysC) is a novel marker for kidney function that has been claimed to be superior to serum creatinine. Thyroid dysfunction may alter creatinine, which has been found to be increased in hypothyroidism and decreased in hyperthyroidism. This study was performed to evaluate whether changes in CysC and creatinine are parallel during the treatment of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, respectively.


Prospective case series of 22 consecutively referred patients with thyroid dysfunction. Creatinine and CysC were determined at the time of diagnosis of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and when free thyroxine (fT4) returned into the normal range. Hypothyroid patients were treated with levothyroxine. Hyperthyroid patients were treated with antithyroid drugs, surgery, or radioiodine.


Nine patients with hypothyroidism and 13 patients with hyperthyroidism were included. In patients with hypothyroidism mean fT4 (+/-SD) was 4.9 +/- 2.5 pmol/L (reference, 12 to 22) at diagnosis and increased to 16.6 +/- 3.6 pmol/L when patients were treated with levothyroxine. Creatinine decreased from 86 +/- 13 micromol/L (reference, 70 to 105) in the hypothyroid state to 76 +/- 16 micromol/L when fT4 normalized (P = 0.062), whereas CysC increased from 0.84 +/- 0.17 mg/L (reference, 0.63 to 1.33) to 1.1 +/- 0.28 mg/L (P < 0.001). In patients with hyperthyroidism, mean fT4 was 54.6 +/- 22.7 pmol/L (reference, 12 to 22) at diagnosis and decreased to 15.8 +/- 3.6 pmol/L following treatment with antithyroid drugs, thyroid surgery, or radioiodine. Creatinine increased from 67 +/- 15 micromol/L at diagnosis of hyperthyroidism to 75 +/- 9 micromol/L when fT4 normalized (P = 0.004), whereas CysC declined from 1.32 +/- 0.17 mg/L to 0.95 +/- 0.19 mg/L (P < 0.001).


Thyroid dysfunction has a major impact on CysC levels. Therefore, thyroid function has to be considered when CysC is used as a marker of kidney function. In contrast to creatinine concentrations, CysC levels are lower in the hypothyroid and higher in the hyperthyroid state as compared with the euthyroid state.

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