Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial


Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (CAT) is the most common cause of acquired hypothyroidism, which requires lifelong levothyroxine replacement therapy. Currently, no effective therapy is available for CAT. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in patients with CAT-induced hypothyroidism by testing thyroid function, thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb), thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb), and ultrasonographic echogenicity. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial with a 9-month follow-up was conducted from 2006 to 2009. Forty-three patients with a history of levothyroxine therapy for CAT-induced hypothyroidism were randomly assigned to receive either 10 sessions of LLLT (830 nm, output power of 50 mW, and fluence of 707 J/cm2; L group, n = 23) or 10 sessions of a placebo treatment (P group, n = 20). The levothyroxine was suspended 30 days after the LLLT or placebo procedures. Thyroid function was estimated by the levothyroxine dose required to achieve normal concentrations of T3, T4, free-T4 (fT4), and thyrotropin after 9 months of postlevothyroxine withdrawal. Autoimmunity was assessed by measuring the TPOAb and TgAb levels. A quantitative computerized echogenicity analysis was performed pre- and 30 days postintervention. The results showed a significant difference in the mean levothyroxine dose required to treat the hypothyroidism between the L group (38.59 ± 20.22 μg/day) and the P group (106.88 ± 22.90 μg/day, P < 0.001). Lower TPOAb (P = 0.043) and greater echogenicity (P < 0.001) were also noted in the L group. No TgAb difference was observed. These findings suggest that LLLT was effective at improving thyroid function, promoting reduced TPOAb-mediated autoimmunity and increasing thyroid echogenicity in patients with CAT hypothyroidism.

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We would like to thank Berenice B. Mendonça, Suemi Marui, Noedir A. G. Stolf, Mikiya Muramatsu, Rosangela Itri, and Claudio Leone for their assistance and support in this study. This research project was supported by grants from the “Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo” (FAPESP), “Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico” (CNPq), and a fellowship from “Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior” (CAPES).

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“I certify that I have no affiliation with or financial involvement in any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript.”

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Correspondence to Danilo B. Höfling.

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Höfling, D.B., Chavantes, M.C., Juliano, A.G. et al. Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers Med Sci 28, 743–753 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-012-1129-9

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  • Autoimmunity
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • LLLT
  • Thyroid
  • Ultrasound