Analytical and clinical performance of thyroglobulin autoantibody assays in thyroid cancer follow-up

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While thyroglobulin autoantibodies (TgAb) can result in false low serum thyroglobulin (Tg) immunoassay (IA) measurements, they might also be indicators of disease persistence/recurrence. Hence, accurate TgAb measurement, in addition to Tg quantification, is crucial for thyroid cancer monitoring. We compared the analytical and clinical performance of four commonly used TgAb IAs.


We measured Tg by mass spectrometry (Tg-MS) and by four pairs of Tg and TgAb IAs (Beckman, Roche, Siemens, Thermo) in 576 samples. Limit of quantitation (LOQ) and manufacturers' upper reference interval cut-off (URI) were used for comparisons. Clinical performance was assessed by receiving operator characteristics (ROC) curve analysis.


Quantitative and qualitative agreement between TgAb-IAs was moderate with R2 of 0.20-0.70 and κ from 0.41-0.66 using LOQ and 0.47-0.71 using URI. In samples with TgAb interference, detection rates of TgAb were similar using LOQ and URI for Beckman, Siemens, and Thermo, but much lower for the Roche TgAb-IA when the URI was used. In TgAb positive cases, the ROC areas under the curve (AUC) for the TgAb-IAs were 0.59 (Beckman), 0.62 (Siemens), 0.59 (Roche), and 0.59 (Thermo), similar to ROC AUCs achieved with Tg. Combining Tg and TgAb measurements improved the ROC AUCs compared to Tg or TgAb alone.


TgAb-IAs show significant qualitative and quantitative differences. For 2 of the 4 TgAb-IAs, using the LOQ improves the detection of interfering TgAbs. All assays showed suboptimal clinical performance when used as surrogate markers of disease, with modest improvements when Tg and TgAb were combined.

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