Thyroid disease in hemochromatosis. Increased incidence in homozygous men

Arch Intern Med. 1983 Oct;143(10):1890-3.


The thyroid function of 49 patients homozygous for the hemochromatosis allele was studied by measurement of serum thyroxine and thyrotropin concentrations. Of 34 homozygous men, three were found to be hypothyroid (thyroxine, less than 3.0 micrograms/dL and thyrotropin, greater than 40 ImU/mL) and one was hyperthyroid (thyroxine, 24 micrograms/dL). All 15 homozygous women had normal thyroid function. The hypothyroid patients had elevated titers of antithyroid antibodies. Histologic examination of the thyroid at autopsy of one hypothyroid patient showed notable iron accumulation and fibrosis with modest lymphocytic infiltration. The causative importance of iron deposition in thyroid diseases associated with hemochromatosis was suggested by the reversal of the usual sex ratio of thyroid dysfunction. Men with hemochromatosis had a much greater iron load than women, and they also had a surprisingly higher incidence of thyroid disease. Iron may have caused injury to the thyroid, followed by the development of antithyroid antibodies and hypothyroidism. The frequency of thyroid disorders in men with hemochromatosis is about 80 times that of men in the general population.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hemochromatosis / complications*
  • Hemochromatosis / epidemiology
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / epidemiology
  • Hyperthyroidism / etiology*
  • Hypothyroidism / epidemiology
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Utah