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Endocr J. 2012;59(8):663-7. Epub 2012 May 11.

Falsely elevated thyroid hormone levels caused by anti-ruthenium interference in the Elecsys assay resembling the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of thyrotropin.

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  • 1Second Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan.


The syndrome of inappropriate secretion of thyrotropin (SITSH) is defined as the inappropriate non-suppression of serum TSH in the presence of elevated free thyroid hormone; TSH-secreting pituitary adenomas and the syndrome of resistance to thyroid hormone are the main etiologies of SITSH. In addition, erroneous thyroid function testing may result in the diagnosis of this syndrome. A 63-year-old woman was referred because of suspected SITSH. Laboratory tests showed a normal TSH (0.52 ╬╝IU/L; normal range: 0.5-5.0) measured by sandwich Elecsys, and elevated FT4 (3.8 ng/dL; normal range: 0.9-1.6) and FT3 (7.6 pg/mL; normal range: 2.3-4.0), determined by competitive Elecsys. To exclude possible assay interference, aliquots of the original samples were retested using a different method (ADVIA Centaur), which showed normal FT4 and FT3 levels. Eight hormone levels, other than thyroid function tests measured by competitive or sandwich Elecsys, were higher or lower than levels determined by an alternative analysis. Subsequent examinations, including gel filtration chromatography, suggested interference by substances against ruthenium, which reduced the excitation of ruthenium, and resulted in erroneous results. The frequency of similar cases, where the FT4 was higher than 3.2 ng/dL, in spite of a non-suppressed TSH, was examined; none of 10 such subjects appeared to have method-specific interference. Here, a patient with anti-ruthenium interference, whose initial thyroid function tests were consistent with SITSH, is presented. This type of interference should be considered when thyroid function is measured using the Elecsys technique, although the frequency of such findings is likely very low.

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