Factors influencing the basal and recombinant human thyrotropin-stimulated serum thyroglobulin in patients with metastatic thyroid carcinoma

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Dec;89(12):6010-6. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-031573.


The serum thyroglobulin (Tg) level is the most sensitive marker for detecting residual thyroid carcinoma. We hypothesized that the basal and TSH-stimulated Tg levels in patients with metastatic thyroid carcinoma would reflect tumor volume, histological subtype, and location of metastatic lesions. A retrospective review of 417 thyroid cancer survivors undergoing evaluation for residual disease with the assistance of recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) was performed. In 169 patients with metastatic disease, we found that the basal Tg level directly correlated with the number of lesions, and that it was highest in patients with follicular and lowest in those with papillary thyroid carcinoma. The basal Tg level was highest in patients with bone metastases and lowest in those with cervical metastases. The fold increase in the serum Tg after rhTSH treatment was highest in papillary thyroid carcinoma and lowest in Hurthle cell carcinoma. The fold increase in Tg was not influenced by tumor volume or by the site of metastatic lesions. Multivariate analysis showed multiple interactions between factors, but did not identify one factor that significantly influenced basal Tg or fold increase. We conclude that the location and volume of metastases influence basal Tg, but not its responsiveness to rhTSH, whereas the histological type of carcinoma influences both basal Tg and responsiveness to rhTSH.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / blood
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / blood
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / blood*
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm, Residual / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroglobulin / blood*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / blood
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyrotropin*


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroglobulin