Thyroid storm (TS) is a life-threatening endocrine emergency. However, the pathogenesis of TS is poorly understood. A 40-year-old man was admitted to a nearby hospital with body weight loss and jaundice. Five days after a contrasted abdominal computerized tomography (CT) scan, he exhibited high fever and disturbance of consciousness. He was diagnosed with TS originating from untreated Graves' disease and was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) of our hospital. The patient exhibited impaired consciousness (E4V1M4 in Glasgow coma scale), high fever (39.3°C), and atrial flutter with a pulse rate 162/min, and was complicated by heart failure, acute hepatic failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulation syndrome (DIC). His circulating level of soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R), a serum marker of an activated immune response, was highly elevated (7,416 U/mL, reference range: 135-483). Multiple organ failure (MOF) and DIC were successfully managed by multimodality treatments using inorganized iodide, glucocorticoids, antithyroid drugs, beta-blockers, and diuretics as well as an anticoagulant agent and the transfusion of platelet concentrate and fresh frozen plasma. sIL-2R levels gradually decreased during the initial treatment, but were still above the reference range even after thyroidectomy. Mild elevations in serum levels of sIL-2R have previously been correlated with thyroid hormone levels in non-storm Graves' disease. The present study demonstrated, for the first time, that circulating sIL-2R levels could be markedly elevated in TS. The marked increase in sIL-2R levels was speculated to represent an inappropriate generalized immune response that plays an unknown role in the pathogenesis of TS.
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