Endocrine side-effects of anti-cancer drugs: the impact of retinoids on the thyroid axis

Eur J Endocrinol. 2014 Jun;170(6):R253-62. doi: 10.1530/EJE-13-0920. Epub 2014 Mar 10.


Bexarotene (Targretin), approved since 1999 as a second-line treatment for late stage cutaneous T-cell lymphomas, has been shown to induce significant hypothyroidism through TSH suppression. This review revisits, through a case report, mechanisms by which rexinoids repress the expression of TSHB gene as well as αTSH and TRH genes. It appears that rexinoids suppress TSH independently from tri-iodothyronine. Bexarotene also differently affects the gene expression of deiodinases 1 and 2 as well as the peripheral clearance of thyroxine. These data might open new ways of research on the potential interaction between thyroid axis and endogenous rexinoids.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Bexarotene
  • Endocrine System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Mycosis Fungoides / drug therapy
  • Retinoids / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes / adverse effects*
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes / therapeutic use
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Thyrotropin, beta Subunit / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Retinoids
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes
  • Thyrotropin, beta Subunit
  • Thyrotropin
  • Bexarotene