The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal Article

COVID-19 and Endocrine Function

August 02, 2021
 

Sophie A Clarke, Maria Phylactou, Bijal Patel, Edouard G Mills, Beatrice Muzi, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Sirazum Choudhury, Bernard Khoo, Karim Meeran, Alexander N Comninos, Ali Abbara, Tricia Tan, Waljit S Dhillo
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 106, Issue 8, August 2021, Pages 2208–2220
https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgab349

Abstract

Context

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert an immense burden on global health services. Moreover, up to 63% of patients experience persistent symptoms, including fatigue, after acute illness. Endocrine systems are vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 as many glands express the ACE2 receptor, used by the SARS-CoV-2 virion for cellular access. However, the effects of COVID-19 on adrenal and thyroid gland function after acute COVID-19 remain unknown.

Objective

Our objectives were to evaluate adrenal and thyroid gland function in COVID-19 survivors.

Methods

A prospective, observational study was undertaken at the Clinical Research Facility, Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust, including 70 patients ≥18 years of age, at least 3 months after diagnosis of COVID-19. Participants attended a research study visit (8:00–9:30 am), during which a short Synacthen test (250 µg IV bolus) and thyroid function assessments were performed.

Results

All patients had a peak cortisol ≥450 nmol/L after Synacthen, consistent with adequate adrenal reserve. Basal and peak serum cortisol did not differ according to disease severity or history of dexamethasone treatment during COVID-19. There was no difference in baseline or peak cortisol after Synacthen or in thyroid function tests, or thyroid status, in patients with fatigue (n = 44) compared to those without (n = 26).

Conclusion

Adrenal and thyroid function ≥3 months after presentation with COVID-19 was preserved. While a significant proportion of patients experienced persistent fatigue, their symptoms were not accounted for by alterations in adrenal or thyroid function. These findings have important implications for the clinical care of patients after COVID-19.

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