Thyroid Hormone Resistance in Identical Twin Sisters with Atrial Fibrillation: Case Report and Review of the Literature

J Endocrinol Diabetes. 2018;5(4):10.15226/2374-6890/5/4/01111. doi: 10.15226/2374-6890/5/4/01111. Epub 2018 Jul 23.


Aim: To report identical twin sisters harboring the A317T mutation in the thyroid hormone beta receptor gene (TR β) who developed atrial fibrillation and refractory congestive heart failure in the sixth decade of life. To critically assess whether the A317T mutation may be responsible for increased cardiotoxicity compared to other thyroid hormone beta receptor gene mutations.

Methods: A 59-year-old woman referred for evaluation of abnormal thyroid function tests had been experiencing frequent spells of tachycardia associated with dyspnea, and dizziness necessitating multiple hospitalizations. Elevation in free thyroxine (T4), total triiodothyronine (T3) and inappropriately normal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was consistent with a clinical diagnosis of thyroid hormone resistance. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain was negative for a TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma. A blood sample was sent for thyroid hormone receptor gene mutational analysis, but it would require eight weeks to complete processing.

Results: A modified L-T3 suppression test was used to assess thyroid-pituitary axis feedback. After three weeks' of cytomel (L-T3) (25 micrograms daily) TSH decreased by 50%, and free T4 level decreased by 22% compared to baseline levels. Genetic testing revealed a heterozygous A317T mutation in the thyroid hormone beta receptor gene. Serial two-dimensional echocardiography demonstrated evolution to left atrial enlargement over a three-year period. Prior published literature suggests a less than 10% prevalence of atrial fibrillation in adults with thyroid hormone resistance harboring various TR-β gene mutations. Yet all five of five (100%) adults having the A317T mutation were reported to experience atrial fibrillation by age 50.

Conclusions: A new kindred with resistance to thyroid hormone harboring the A317T disease-causative mutation is described in which identical twin sisters had a mid-life onset of atrial fibrillation and refractory congestive heart failure.

Keywords: Atrial Fibrillation; Congestive Heart Failure; Identical Twins; Mutation; Resistance to Thyroid Hormone.