Association of Antithyroid Antibodies in Checkpoint Inhibitor-Associated Thyroid Immune-Related Adverse Events

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Apr 19;107(5):e1843-e1849. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgac059.


Context: The significance of thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) in the pathogenesis of thyroid immune-related adverse events (irAEs) is unknown.

Objective: To characterize the association of anti-thyroid antibodies with the development of thyroid immune related adverse events.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of patients with melanoma receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) treatment. TPOAb, TgAb, and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were measured retrospectively using tumor-banked samples at baseline and at time of diagnosis of a thyroid irAE. In euthyroid patients (without thyroid irAEs) measures were repeated 30 to 60 days after ICI commencement, which was similar to the median time to onset of thyroid irAEs in other patients.

Results: A total of 122 patients were included-31 remained euthyroid, 47 developed subclinical thyrotoxicosis, 37 developed overt thyrotoxicosis, and 7 developed overt hypothyroidism without preceding thyrotoxicosis. Baseline elevation of TPOAb or TgAb was present in 19 (16%) and 28 (23%) patients, respectively. Positive TPOAb or TgAb at baseline was 97% and 100% specific for eventual development of a thyroid irAE, respectively. During ICI treatment, overt thyrotoxicosis, but not other subtypes of thyroid irAE, was associated with statistically significant increases in the titer of TgAb and TPOAb. Baseline IL-6 levels were not associated with thyroid irAE onset but statistically significantly increased during treatment in patients who developed overt hypothyroidism.

Conclusions: TPOAb and TgAb positivity at baseline was more prevalent in patients who developed thyroid irAEs. Statistically significant increases or new antibody positivity was observed in association with overt thyrotoxicosis. TPOAb and TgAb positivity or increases during ICI treatment may be a useful biomarker to identify patients at increased risk of thyroid irAEs, particularly overt thyrotoxicosis.

Keywords: hyperthyroidism; immune checkpoint inhibitor; immune-related adverse event; interleukin-6; thyroid peroxidase antibody; thyroiditis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism* / etiology
  • Interleukin-6
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyrotoxicosis* / complications


  • Autoantibodies
  • Interleukin-6