Interferon Alpha Treatment and Thyroid Dysfunction

Yaron Tomer, Jason T. Blackard, Nagako Akeno

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Interferon alpha (IFNα) is the cornerstone therapeutic agent for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Prospective studies have shown that up to 15% of HCV patients receiving IFNα develop clinical thyroid disease, and up to 40% become thyroid antibody positive. In some cases IFN-induced thyroiditis (IIT) may result in discontinuation of interferon therapy; thus, IIT represents a major clinical problem for hepatitis C patients receiving IFNα therapy. Recently, the mechanisms leading to the development of IIT have begun to be unraveled. It is now clear that HCV itself plays a role in the disease. Moreover, recent data suggest the IFNα precipitates thyroiditis by both immune modulatory mechanisms and direct thyroid toxic effects. Genetic factors also play a major role in the etiology of IIT. IIT can manifest both as clinical autoimmune thyroiditis (ie, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease) and as nonautoimmune thyroiditis (ie, destructive thyroiditis). Early detection and therapy of these conditions are important to avoid complications of thyroid disease such as cardiac arrhythmias. This article reviews the epidemiology and clinical manifestations of IIT and the mechanisms causing IIT, focusing on the role of HCV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1066
Number of pages16
JournalEndocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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