December 12, 1994

Enhanced Susceptibility to Amiodarone-Induced Hypothyroidism in Patients With Thyroid Autoimmune Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Istituto di Endocrinologia, University of Pisa, Italy (Drs Martino, Aghini-Lombardi, Bartalena, Grasso, and Pinchera); the Istituto di Medicina Interna, University of Cagliari, Italy (Drs Loviselli and Velluzzi); and the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester (Dr Braverman).

Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(23):2722-2726. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420230115013

Background:  The iodine-rich antiarrhythmic drug, amiodarone, can induce both thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism, the former being more frequent in iodine-deficient areas, the latter in iodine-sufficient areas. In this study we evaluated prospectively thyroid function in amiodarone-treated patients with positive or negative baseline thyroid autoantibody test results who resided in a moderately iodine-deficient area of Italy.

Subjects:  Two groups of patients received long-term amiodarone treatment: Group 1 included 13 patients with negative thyroid autoantibody test results. Group 2 consisted of seven patients with positive thyroid autoantibody test results and thyroid ultrasound patterns compatible with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. The control group (group 3) included 16 untreated euthyroid patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. All subjects resided in a mildly iodine-deficient area of Italy (Southern Sardinia) and had low urinary iodine values. Patients in groups 1 and 2 had markedly elevated urinary iodine excretion during treatment. The follow-up period ranged from 6 to 29 months in group 1, from 4 to 9 months in group 2, and from 12 to 55 months in group 3.

Results:  Two (15%) of 13 patients in group 1 with nodular goiter developed thyrotoxicosis. No patient in this group developed circulating thyroid autoantibodies. Five (71%) of seven patients in group 2 became hypothyroid after 4 to 9 months of amiodarone treatment associated with a rise in serum thyroid autoantibody levels. No patient in group 3 became hypothyroid.

Conclusions:  (1) Amiodarone administration can cause both thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism. (2) Hypothyroidism is far more frequent in patients with preexisting thyroid autoimmune disease. (3) Amiodarone can modify the natural history of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. (4) Circulating thyroid autoantibodies do not appear in amiodarone-treated patients who have negative test results prior to therapy.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:2722-2726)