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Thyroid. 2003 Feb;13(2):211-5.

Transient elevation of triiodothyronine caused by triiodothyronine autoantibody associated with acute Epstein-Barr-virus infection.

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Institute of Endocrinology, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


A unique 16-year old female patient presented after acute Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection with severe primary hypothyroidism. Her thyroid test results were thyrotropin level (TSH) of 198 mU/L (normal, 0.4-4 mU/L), free thyroxine [FT(4)], 2.5 pmol/L (normal, 10-25 pmol/L), total triiodothyronine (TT(3)) > 19.5 nmol/L (normal, 1.3-2.7 nmol/L), and free triiodothyronine (FT(3)), 0.77 pmol/L (normal, 3.3-6.3 pmol/L). She had high titers of thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase autoantibodies. In vitro triiodothyronine (T(3))-binding measured by radioimmunoprecipitation was 86% (normal, up to 8.5%) and thyroxine (T(4))-binding 8.2% (normal, 6.4%). Serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) absorption, achieved by protein-G Sepharose beads, decreased TT(3) toward normal. Levothyroxine treatment normalized the low baseline FT(4) and FT(3) values, and suppressed TSH to normal. However, TT(3) remained highly elevated and returned to normal after 20 months, while T(3 )binding gradually decreased. Thus, her severe hypothyroidism was masked by this unusual phenomenon. Thirty-four patients with EBV infection (15 with acute disease and 19 with previous infection) were tested for thyroid hormone levels. EBV antibodies (early antigen immunoglobulin M [IgM] and IgG and anti-Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen [EBNA] IgG) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). In 15 patients with acute EBV the mean TT(3) level was 2.47 +/- 0.39 nmol/L (5 had TT(3) values above normal) compared to a mean TT(3) of 1.70 +/- 0.53 nmol/L in 19 subjects with previous infection (p < 0.0005; only 1 had a TT(3) result above normal), with no differences in FT(4) and TSH concentrations between the two groups. Acute EBV infection may be associated with transient mild to severe TT(3) elevation as a result of assay interference by anti-T(3) autoantibodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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