Early Use of Steroid-Sparing Agents in the Inactivation of Moderate-to-Severe Active Thyroid eye Disease

A Step-Down Approach

Zuzana Sipkova; Elizabeth A. Insull; Joel David; Helen E. Turner; Shay Keren; Jonathan H. Norris


Clin Endocrinol. 2018;89(6):834-839. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Objectives: The current first-line treatment for management of active thyroid eye disease (TED) is high-dose intravenous corticosteroids, which have the potential for serious adverse effects. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of steroid-sparing agents (SSAs) in patients with moderate-to-severe active TED, using methotrexate as first-line.

Methods: Presented is a retrospective, four-year, single-centre, consecutive case series of patients with moderate-to-severe TED treated using the Oxford protocol. Treatment modality, disease activity, and adverse effects are reported at presentation, 6- and 12-month follow-up.

Results: 104 consecutive TED patients treated by the Oxford TED team were reviewed. 24 patients with moderate-to-severe active disease were identified (mean age 46.8 years;12 female) with a mean pretreatment VISA inflammatory index score of 5.5/10 (SD = 1.98; range 1–9). Intravenous methyl-prednisolone (IVMP) and an SSA was commenced in all patients. Mean total steroid dose was 2.72 g (SD = 1.4;1.0–6.9). 38% of patients (n = 9) received ≤1.5 g of IVMP. Only two patients required >4.5 g of IVMP equating to the EUGOGO treatment protocol dose for this patient group. There was significant improvement in inflammatory index score both at the intermediate review (mean score 2.7; SD = 2.8; P < 0.001; mean follow up 25.2 weeks) and at one year or last follow-up (mean score 1.4; SD = 1.5; P < 0.001; mean follow up 48.0 weeks). No serious or long-term adverse effects were reported.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the initiation of an SSA, using methotrexate as first-line, with limited adjuvant IVMP is an effective and safe treatment for moderate-to-severely active TED, resulting in a significant reduction in both disease activity and total steroid load.