Steroid-responsive encephalopathy associated with autoimmune thyroiditis (SREAT): Characteristics, treatment and outcome in 251 cases from the literature

Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Dec;15(12):1129-1133. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.09.008. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Background: Steroid-responsive encephalopathy and associated autoimmune thyroiditis (SREAT) is characterized by encephalopathy and the presence of antithyroid antibodies. We describe the clinical presentation, outcome and treatments for SREAT by a systematic review of the literature.

Methods: MEDLINE via PubMed, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library were searched for articles published until 2015. Inclusion criteria were unexplained encephalopathy with antithyroid antibodies.

Results: We found reports of 251 patients (median age 52years [range 18-86], 73% females, 80 [32%] with preexisting thyroiditis). Patients presented encephalitis signs with convulsions (n=117; 47%), confusion (n=115, 46%), speech disorder (n=91, 37%), memory impairment (n=107, 43%), gait disturbance (n=67, 27%) and persecutory delusions (n=61, 25%). Twenty-eight patients (11%) presented progressive memory impairment and 26 (10%) isolated psychiatric disorders. In serum, 34% of patients were positive for anti-thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, 7% for anti-thyroglobulin (TG) antibodies, and 69% both. Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels were usually normal, at 2 UI/ml [0.001-205]. Cerebrospinal fluid from 10/53 patients (19%) was positive for anti-TPO antibodies, 2/53 (4%) anti-TG antibodies and 28 (53%) both. Electroencephalography findings were abnormal for 82% of patients, showing diffuse slowing consistent with encephalopathy (70%) or epileptic activity (14%). The first-line treatment was steroids in 193 patients and other immunosuppressive drugs in 10 cases. At a median follow-up of 12months [range 0.2-110], 91% of patients showed complete or partial neurological response, with anti-TPO and -TG antibody titers at 347 UI/ml [0-825,000] and 110 UI/ml [0-50,892], respectively. During follow-up, 40 patients (16%) experienced at least one relapse. Relapse was more frequent in patients with initial coma (26% vs 13%, p=0.08).

Conclusion: The diagnosis of SREAT should be suspected in case of encephalopathy without obvious cause, to quickly start corticosteroid treatment. The exact modalities of treatment must be defined.

Keywords: SREAT; Steroid-responsive encephalopathy associated with autoimmune thyroiditis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Encephalitis / drug therapy*
  • Hashimoto Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Steroids / therapeutic use*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / complications*
  • Young Adult


  • Steroids

Supplementary concepts

  • Hashimoto's encephalitis