Maternal compound W serial measurements for the management of fetal hypothyroidsm

Donatella Cortelazzi, Paola S. Morpurgo, Paola Zamperini, Delbert A. Fisher, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Sing Yung Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The diagnosis of fetal hypothyroidism is based at present on measurements of TSH and free thyroxine (FT4) in fetal blood samples obtained by cordocentesis. The measurement of maternal serum and urinary concentrations of compound W, immunologically similar to but chromatographically distinct from diiodothyronine sulfate (T2S), has been advocated as a new possible marker for fetal hypothyroidism. Design: In this paper, we measured serum compound W levels in 84 pregnant women. 20 with and 64 without thyroid disorders before and during specific treatment. Compound W was also assessed in fetal blood obtained by cordocentesis from 49 normal fetuses and 4 fetuses with suspected hypothyroidism due to transplacental passage of propylthiouracil (PTU). Compound W levels were measured by T2S RIA in maternal and fetal serum. To assess the possible usefulness of 3,5,3'- triiodothyroacetic acid (TRIAC) for therapy of fetal hypothyroidism we evaluated the transplacental passage of TRIAC by administering the drug to four pregnant women before therapeutic abortion. Results: In normal pregnancies, both maternal and fetal compound W levels increased progressively during gestation with a significant direct correlation (P <0.001, in both mothers and fetuses). Moreover, a significant positive correlation was observed between fetal compound W and fetal FT4 values (P <0.005), whereas no correlation was observed between maternal serum compound W and maternal FT4 in either euthyroid or hyperthyroid women, suggesting the fetal origin of compound W. The hypothyroid fetuses of PTU-treated mothers showed low compound W levels, and maternal compound W values were in the low normal range and did not show the typical increase during progression of gestation. A significant increase of maternal compound W was observed when the PTU dose was reduced. TRIAC was documented to cross the placental barrier and the treatment of a hyperthyroid pregnant woman on PTU caused the high fetal TSH levels and goiter to normalize. Conclusions: Serial measurements of 3,3'-T2S crossreactive materials (compound W and 3,3'-diiodothyroacetic acid sulfate) in maternal blood and the administration of TRIAC to the mother may represent a useful and safe alternative to invasive techniques for the diagnosis and therapy of fetal hypothyroidism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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