Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 149–153 | Cite as

Thyroid function tests in acute viral hepatitis: relative reduction in serum thyroxine levels due to T4-TBG binding inhibitors in patients with severe liver cell necrosis

  • M. C. Pagliacci
  • G. Pelicci
  • D. Francisco
  • C. Giammartino
  • L. Fedeli
  • G. Stagni
  • I. Nicoletti


Thyroid function tests were evaluated in 34 patients with acute viral hepatitis (AVH) and in 38 healthy controls (C). As expected, AVH patients displayed a significant increase in T4, rT3 and TBG serum levels with respect to C, while FT4 and TSH concentrations were similar. A positive correlation between TBG and T4 was evident in C, but not in AVH. In this group there was, instead, an inverse correlation between the sum of serum levels of GOT + GPT and T4 concentrations. When AVH patients were divided in “high necrosis” (HN, serum GOT + GPT > 2000 Ul/I) and “low necrosis” (LN, serum GOT + GPT < 2000 Ul/ml) groups, we found a significant reduction in both T4 and T3 serum concentrations in HN with respect to LN, despite similar levels of TBG, albumin, FT4 and TSH. The hypothesis that thyroid-hormone binding inhibitors (THBI), released during severe liver cell injury, accounted for an impaired serum binding capacity in HN-AVH, was confirmed by the significant increase in FT4/T4 ratio and by the demonstration of THBI activity in pooled sera of these patients, with respect to LN subgroup. Our present finding may clarify the unexplained observation of reduced T4 levels in patients with fulminant hepatitis and the ominous prognostic significance of a “low T4 syndrome” in subjects with severe liver disease and/or other systemic illnesses.


Acute hepatitis thyroid hormones TBG thyroid hormone-TBG binding inhibitors 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Pagliacci
    • 1
  • G. Pelicci
    • 1
  • D. Francisco
    • 1
  • C. Giammartino
    • 1
  • L. Fedeli
    • 3
  • G. Stagni
    • 2
  • I. Nicoletti
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Clinica Medica 1Università di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Malattie InfettiveUniversità di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.Servizio di Medicina NucleareUniversità di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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