Context: Subclinical hypothyroidism is not a rare condition, but the use of thyroid hormone to treat subclinical hypothyroidism is an issue of debate.
Objective: This study was undertaken to investigate the impact of thyroid hormone therapy on the changes in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in subclinical hypothyroidism patients with stage 2-4 chronic kidney disease.
Patients: A total of 309 patients were included in the final analysis.
Main outcome measure: The changes in eGFR over time were compared between patients with and without thyroid hormone replacement therapy using a linear mixed model. Kaplan-Meier curves were constructed to determine the effect of thyroid hormone on renal outcome, a reduction of eGFR by 50%, or end-stage renal disease. The independent prognostic value of subclinical hypothyroidism treatment for renal outcome was ascertained by multivariate Cox regression analysis.
Results: Among the 309 patients, 180 (58.3%) took thyroid hormone (treatment group), whereas 129 (41.7%) did not (nontreatment group). During the mean follow-up duration of 34.8 ± 24.3 months, the overall rate of decline in eGFR was significantly greater in the nontreatment group compared to the treatment group (-5.93 ± 1.65 vs. -2.11 ± 1.12 ml/min/yr/1.73 m(2); P = 0.04). Moreover, a linear mixed model revealed that there was a significant difference in the rates of eGFR decline over time between the two groups (P < 0.01). Kaplan-Meier analysis also showed that renal event-free survival was significantly lower in the nontreatment group (P < 0.01). In multivariate Cox regression analysis, thyroid hormone replacement therapy was found to be an independent predictor of renal outcome (hazard ratio, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.68; P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Thyroid hormone therapy not only preserved renal function better, but was also an independent predictor of renal outcome in chronic kidney disease patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.