Assessment of Thyroid Function in Patients With Alkaptonuria

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JAMA network open








Importance: Alkaptonuria is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by pathogenic variants in the HGD gene. Deficiency of the HGD enzyme leads to tissue deposition of homogentisic acid (HGA), causing severe osteoarthropathies and cardiac valve degeneration. Although HGD is vital for the catabolism of tyrosine, which provides the basis for thyroid hormone synthesis, the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in alkaptonuria is unknown. Objective: To assess thyroid structure and function in patients with alkaptonuria. Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-center cohort study was conducted in a tertiary referral center including patients with alkaptonuria followed up for a median of 93 (interquartile range, 48-150) months between February 1, 2000, and December 31, 2018. The alkaptonuria diagnosis was based on clinical presentation and elevated urine HGA levels. A total of 130 patients were considered for participation. Main Outcomes and Measures: Prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in adults with alkaptonuria compared with the general population. Thyrotropin and free thyroxine levels were measured by immunoassay and repeated in each patient a median of 3 (interquartile range, 2-22) times. Neck ultrasonographic scans were analyzed in a subset of participants. Logistic regression was used to test the association of thyroid dysfunction with age, sex, thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, serum tyrosine levels, and urine HGA levels. Results: Of the 130 patients, 5 were excluded owing to thyroidectomy as the cause of hypothyroidism. The study cohort consisted of 125 patients; the median age was 45 (interquartile range, 35-51) years. Most of the patients were men (72 [57.6%]). The prevalence of primary hyperthyroidism was 0.8% (1 of 125 patients), similar to 0.5% observed in the general population (difference, 0.003; 95% CI, -0.001 to 0.04; P = .88). The prevalence of primary hypothyroidism was 16.0% (20 of 125 patients), which is significantly higher than 3.7% reported in the general population (difference, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.10-0.24; P < .001). Women were more likely to have primary hypothyroidism than men (odds ratio, 10.99; 95% CI, 3.13-38.66; P < .001). Patients with TPO antibodies had a higher likelihood of primary hypothyroidism than those without TPO antibodies (odds ratio, 7.36; 95% CI, 1.89-28.62; P = .004). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of thyroid nodules between patients in this study (29 of 49 [59.2%]) vs the general population (68%) (difference, 0.088; 95% CI, -0.44 to 0.73; P = .20) or of cancer (7% vs 5%; difference, 0.01; 95% CI, -0.01 to 0.17; P = .86). Conclusions and Relevance: The high prevalence of primary hypothyroidism noted in patients with alkaptonuria in this study suggests that serial screening in this population should be considered and prioritized.

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