Prestimulation with recombinant human thyrotropin (rhTSH) improves the long-term outcome of radioiodine therapy for multinodular nontoxic goiter

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug;97(8):2653-60. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-3335. Epub 2012 May 10.


Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the long-term outcome of recombinant human TSH (rhTSH)-augmented radioiodine ((131)I) therapy for benign multinodular nontoxic goiter.

Patients and methods: Between 2002 and 2005, 86 patients with a multinodular nontoxic goiter were treated with (131)I in two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. (131)I-therapy was preceded by 0.3 mg rhTSH (n = 42) or placebo (n = 44). In 2009, 80 patients completed a follow-up (FU) visit, including determination of thyroid volume, thyroid function, and patient satisfaction by a visual analog scale.

Results: In both groups, thyroid volume was further reduced from 1 yr to final FU (71 months). The mean goiter volume reductions obtained at 1 yr and final FU [59.2 ± 2.4% (sem) and 69.7 ± 3.1%, respectively] in the rhTSH group were significantly greater than those obtained in the (131)I-alone group (43.2 ± 3.7 and 56.2 ± 3.6%, respectively, P = 0.001 and P = 0.006), corresponding to a gain of 24% at final FU. At last FU the mean reduction in compression visual analog scale score was significantly greater in patients receiving rhTSH (P = 0.049). Additional therapy (thyroid surgery or (131)I) was required more often in the placebo group (nine of 44) compared with the rhTSH group (two of 42) (P = 0.05). The prevalence of hypothyroidism at 1 yr [9 and 43% in the placebo and rhTSH groups, respectively (P < 0.0001)] increased to 16 and 52%, respectively, at final FU (P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Enhanced goiter volume reduction with rhTSH-augmented (131)I therapy improves the long-term reduction in goiter-related symptoms and reduces the need for additional therapy compared with plain (131)I therapy. Overall patient satisfaction is benefited, despite a higher rate of permanent hypothyroidism.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Goiter, Nodular / pathology
  • Goiter, Nodular / physiopathology
  • Goiter, Nodular / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology
  • Thyrotropin Alfa / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Thyrotropin Alfa