Discordance of monozygotic twins for thyroid dysgenesis: implications for screening and for molecular pathophysiology

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Sep;87(9):4072-7. doi: 10.1210/jc.2001-011995.

Abstract

Since the advent of biochemical screening for congenital hypothyroidism, the majority of monozygotic twins reported with thyroid dysgenesis have been discordant, and most were missed on neonatal screening, presumably due to fetal blood mixing. We hypothesized that there may be bias leading to preferential reporting of discordant twins and/or of false negative screening results. Therefore, we performed a systematic search for twins in two congenital hypothyroidism screening centers, Quebec and Brussels, that use a primary TSH approach. In Quebec, 10 pairs of twins were identified, all discordant for congenital hypothyroidism due to thyroid dysgenesis (4 monozygotic and 4 dizygotic pairs) and dyshormonogenesis (2 dizygotic pairs). The 6 pairs identified in the Brussels database were also all discordant for congenital hypothyroidism due to thyroid dysgenesis (1 monozygotic and 3 dizygotic pairs) and dyshormonogenesis (2 dizygotic pairs). The median increase in TSH between screening and diagnosis was 7-fold in the monozygotic twins vs. 2-fold in matched singletons (P = 0.02), suggesting fetal blood mixing between the twins. In summary, discordance for thyroid dysgenesis is the rule in monozygotic twins, and fetal blood mixing may result in delayed or missed diagnoses. We therefore conclude that 1) a second sample for congenital hypothyroidism screening at 14 d of age should be considered for all same-sex twins; and 2) thyroid dysgenesis generally results from epigenetic phenomena, early somatic mutations, or postzygotic stochastic events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology*
  • Hypothyroidism / genetics
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Thyroid Gland / abnormalities*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic*