How Biotin Induces Misleading Results in Thyroid Bioassays: Case Series

Cureus. 2019 May 23;11(5):e4727. doi: 10.7759/cureus.4727.


Biotin is widely available over the counter in different doses and is used medically in the management of hair and nail problems. Recent literature suggested the use of high doses of biotin for the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis. We present four cases that show a misleading increase in thyroid function tests toward a false diagnosis of Grave's disease after the administration of 20-30 mg biotin for different periods. All the four cases are free of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, and all of their results returned to baseline values within 24-48 hours after biotin withdrawal. The assemblage of these cases, thyroid assay results, and biotin doses had occurred by chance, with no selection bias, and they represented all cases of biotin interference with thyroid assays in our center during this year. The first case is a 23-year-old female who was diagnosed with Grave's disease during a routine checkup after she ingested a prescribed 20 mg biotin per day for three months for excessive hair fall. The second case is a 19-year-old female with hair and nail problems associated with iron deficiency anemia. She administered a self-prescribed biotin dose of 20 mg a day for a month. She asked an endocrinologist's opinion about a recent increase in her thyroid function tests, with no signs of hyperthyroidism. The third case is a 45-year-old man with near-total thyroidectomy for retrosternal multinodular goiter with compressive symptoms. His usual levothyroxine dose had been decreased from 100 to 50 microgram per day, after which he felt unwell and gained four kilograms, with signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. His investigations were consistent with hyperthyroidism while his signs were of hypothyroidism, which was illogical. He was administered 30 mg medically prescribed biotin for nail changes due to recently diagnosed psoriasis. The fourth case is that of one of the authors who volunteered to take 30 mg of biotin daily for one week. His initial investigations were in the normal range but changed within this period to be Grave's disease-like, with no signs or symptoms. In conclusion, the ingestion of 20 mg or more of biotin may lead to a clinically relevant thyroid assay interference. The clinicians must take this point in consideration before assessing the results of any thyroid function tests.

Keywords: biotin; grave's disease; immunoassay; pseudohyperthyroidism; thyroid bioassay.

Publication types

  • Case Reports