Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) in a group of patients with spondyloarthritis (SpA).
Methods: We evaluated serum levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, free triiodothyronine, and free thyroxine, and titers of antithyroglobulin and antithyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies in 357 consecutive patients with SpA. We also recruited 318 healthy age-matched controls. Ultrasonography of the thyroid gland was performed in all subjects and rheumatic activity was evaluated.
Results: Indices of thyroid autoimmunity were significantly more frequent in patients with SpA than in controls (24.09% vs 10.69%, respectively; p < 0.05). In the SpA group, a higher prevalence of HT was found in patients with an active disease than in those with low-moderate disease levels. Also in the SpA group, patients with a disease duration > 2 years had a higher prevalence of HT and anti-TPO antibodies positivity than patients with a disease duration ≤ 2 years. Ultrasonography detected a significantly higher frequency of thyroid nodules and hypoechoic pattern in patients with SpA than in controls. Among patients with SpA, HT and anti-TPO antibodies positivity were significantly more frequent in patients with peripheral involvement (68.6%) than in patients with axial involvement (31.4%; p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Our study shows a significantly higher prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity in patients with SpA as compared to controls. Thyroiditis occurs more frequently in patients with longer disease duration and active rheumatic disease. We suggest that thyroid function tests be part of the clinical evaluation in patients with SpA.