Naming difficulties after thyroid stimulating hormone suppression therapy in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma: a prospective cohort study

Endocrine. 2019 Aug;65(2):327-337. doi: 10.1007/s12020-019-01943-8. Epub 2019 May 5.


Background: Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) suppression therapy after differentiated thyroid carcinoma surgery causes cognitive impairment. However, data on naming difficulties (anomia)-related specific cognitive impairment are lacking.

Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted, in which, patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma and benign thyroid nodules were given oral L-T4 therapy after surgery, after meeting the criteria of TSH suppression therapy and thyroxine replacement therapy, respectively, the patients were continually given L-T4 therapy for 6 and 12 months, and then, the neuropsychological test was performed.

Results: Of the 255 subjects, 212 cases (83.13%) completed all the tests, including 33 cases in the normal control group (NC group), 110 cases in the TSH suppression therapy group (TS group), and 69 cases in the thyroxine replacement therapy group (TR group). There was no significant difference in background data among the three groups (P > 0.05). The scores of mini-mental state examination, clock drawing test, digit symbol substitution test, personal history, temporal and spatial orientation, digit order relation, visual object recognition, associative learning, and color naming in the TS and TR groups were not significantly different from those in the NC group after 6 and 12 months of L-T4 therapy (P > 0.05); the scores of picture recall, visual recall, comprehension memory, and digit span forward in the TS and TR groups were notably lower than those in the NC group (P < 0.01); the scores of confrontation naming and listing the names in the TS group were significantly lower than those in the NC and TR groups, and the scores decreased with the prolongation of TSH suppression therapy (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: TSH suppression therapy after differentiated thyroid carcinoma surgery could lead to short-term memory impairment, attention impairment, word selection anomia, and depression, of which, word selection anomia was aggravated with the prolongation of TSH suppression therapy. Therefore, we suggested that optimal TSH goals for individual patients must balance the potential benefit of TSH suppression therapy with the possible harm from subclinical hyperthyroidism especially in low risk differentiated thyroid carcinoma patients ( Protocol Registration System: ID NCT0266532, Registered on 21 June 2016).

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Differentiated thyroid carcinoma; TSH suppression therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anomia / chemically induced*
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / chemically induced
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Thyrotropin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / administration & dosage
  • Thyroxine / adverse effects*


  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine