Research Article

Raised plasma glutathione S-transferase values in hyperthyroidism and in hypothyroid patients receiving thyroxine replacement: evidence for hepatic damage.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.291.6493.427 (Published 17 August 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:427
  1. G J Beckett,
  2. H A Kellett,
  3. S M Gow,
  4. A J Hussey,
  5. J D Hayes,
  6. A D Toft

    Abstract

    Using plasma glutathione S-transferase measurements hepatocellular integrity was assessed in groups of hyperthyroid and hypothyroid patients before and after treatment. Ten of 14 hyperthyroid patients had clearly raised plasma glutathione S-transferase values at presentation and in each patient treatment with either iodine-131 or carbimazole resulted in a significant fall in glutathione S-transferase. The eight hypothyroid patients had normal glutathione S-transferase values at presentation and all showed a significant increase in these after thyroxine replacement therapy. In three of these patients in whom standard doses of replacement therapy were associated with a raised free thyroxine (T4) concentration but normal total and free triiodothyronine (T3) values glutathione S-transferase was increased. Similar though less consistent changes were seen in the results of standard chemical tests of liver function. It is concluded that hyperthyroidism may produce subclinical liver damage in a high proportion of patients and that this resolves with effective treatment. More important, the data suggest that hypothyroid patients receiving thyroxine replacement therapy may have similar subclinical liver damage. Patients receiving thyroxine should be monitored by the measurement of free, not total hormone concentrations, and in those in whom free T4 is raised the dose of thyroxine should be reduced. It would also be expedient to include periodic biochemical assessment of liver function in patients receiving thyroxine.