Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) might have many symptoms of hypothyroidism. The controversy appears to lower the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and group subjects with TSH of more than 3 or even 2.5 mIU/L as SCH subjects.
To assess SCH subjects both clinically using Zulewski clinical score and biochemically and to evaluate whether the euthyroid subjects with high-normal TSH (HNT) have any clinical symptom or subnormal biochemical finding.
A prospective cross-sectional study of 233 subjects, 67 with SCH and 166 euthyroidism, was conducted. Euthyroid subjects were divided according to the level of TSH as HNT (>2.5 mIU/L) and low-normal TSH (0.5–2.5 mIU/L). The subjects were examined for clinical feature including Zulewski clinical score and biochemical evaluations including thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Ab) titer. The comparisons between groups were assessed using independent sample t test, and correlations between variables were evaluated using Pearson correlation.
A significantly higher clinical score and higher frequencies of symptoms were found in the SCH group compared to the euthyroid group. The most frequent symptom was fatigue. Euthyroid subjects with HNT were found to have higher TPO-Ab titers than those with low-normal TSH, P < 0.05. The Zulewski clinical score was positively correlated with TSH and TPO-Ab titer but negatively correlated with the FT4 level, P < 0.05.
Zulewski clinical score is higher in SCH subjects compared to euthyroid subjects and can aid in assessing SCH subjects. A significant correlation exists between Zulewski clinical score and each of the TSH, FT4, and TPO-Ab titer levels. The frequency of TPO-Ab positivity is high in SCH. Additionally, euthyroid with higher TSH levels has higher level of TPO-Ab titer but not higher clinical score.