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Thyroid function in COVID-19 and the association with cytokine levels and mortality

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The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid hormone axis might be affected in COVID-19, but existing studies have shown varying results. It has been hypothesized that hyperinflammation, as reflected by the secretion of cytokines, might induce thyroid dysfunction among patients with COVID-19. We explored thyroid hormone involvement in the acute phase of symptomatic COVID-19 and its possible associations with cytokine levels and mortality risk. This was a single-center study of 116 consecutive patients hospitalized for moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease. Serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), and 45 cytokines/chemokines were measured in all patients within 3 days of admission. Data were extracted retrospectively through a manual review of health records. At admission, 95 (81.9%) were euthyroid; while 21 (18.1%) had biochemically thyroid dysfunction including subclinical thyrotoxicosis (n = 11), overt thyrotoxicosis (n = 2), hypothyroidism (n = 1), non-thyroidal illness (n = 2), and normal TSH but high free T4 (n = 5). TSH levels were inversely correlated with IL-8 (rs = -0.248), IL-10 (rs = -0.253), IL-15 (rs = -0.213), IP-10 (rs = -0.334), and GM-CSF (rs = -0.254). Moreover, IL-8 levels, IP-10, and GM-CSF were significantly higher in patients with serum TSH < 0.4 mIU/L. Lastly, a two-fold increment of IL-8 and IL-10 was associated with significantly higher odds of having TSH < 0.4 mIU/L (odds ratio 1.86 (1.11-3.10) and 1.78 (1.03-3.06)). Serum TSH was not associated with 30- or 90-day mortality. In conclusion, this study suggests that fluctuations of TSH levels in patients with COVID-19 may be influenced by circulating IL-8, IL-10, IL-15, IP-10, and GM-CSF as previously described in autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEndocrine Connections
Volume10
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1234-1242
Number of pages9
ISSN2049-3614
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, IL-10, IL-8, SARS-CoV-2, cytokines, mortality, thyroid function, thyroid gland

ID: 67447019