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Concept: Hypothyroidism


The endocrine system and particular endocrine organs, including the thyroid, undergo important functional changes during aging. The prevalence of thyroid disorders increases with age and numerous morphological and physiological changes of the thyroid gland during the process of aging are well-known. It is to be stressed that the clinical course of thyroid diseases in the elderly differs essentially from that observed in younger individuals, because symptoms are more subtle and are often attributed to normal aging. Subclinical hypo- and hyperthyroidism, as well as thyroid neoplasms, require special attention in elderly subjects. Intriguingly, decreased thyroid function, as well as thyrotropin (TSH) levels – progressively shifting to higher values with age – may contribute to the increased lifespan.This short review focuses on recent findings concerning the alterations in thyroid function during aging, including these which may potentially lead to extended longevity, both in humans and animals.

Concepts: Thyroid disease, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Graves' disease, Endocrine system, Triiodothyronine


C.RF-Tshr(hyt/hyt) mice have a mutated thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (P556L-TSHR) and these mice develop severe hypothyroidism. We found that C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) heterozygous mice are also in a hypothyroid state. Thyroid glands from C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) mice are smaller than those from wild-type mice, and (125)I uptake activities of the former are significantly lower than those in the latter. When TSHR (TSHR(W)) and P556L-TSHR (TSHR(M)) cDNAs were cloned and co-transfected into HEK 293 cells, the cells retained (125)I-TSH binding activity, but cAMP response to TSH was decreased to about 20% of HEK 293 cells transfected with TSHR(W) cDNA. When TSHR(W) and TSHR(M) were tagged with eCFP or eYFP, we observed fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in HEK 293 cells expressing TSHR(W)-eCFP and TSHR(W)-eYFP in the absence of TSH, but not in the presence of TSH. In contrast, we obtained FRET in HEK 293 cells expressing TSHR(W)-eCFP and TSHR (M)-eYFP, regardless of the presence or absence of TSH. These results suggest that P556L TSHR has a dominant negative effect on TSHR(W) by impairing polymer to monomer dissociation, which decreases TSH responsiveness and induces hypothyroidism in C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) mice.

Concepts: DNA, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid hormone, Förster resonance energy transfer, HEK cell


Thyroid hormone is essential for normal metabolism and development, and overt abnormalities in thyroid function lead to common endocrine disorders affecting approximately 10% of individuals over their life span. In addition, even mild alterations in thyroid function are associated with weight changes, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, and psychiatric disorders. To identify novel variants underlying thyroid function, we performed a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for serum levels of the highly heritable thyroid function markers TSH and FT4, in up to 26,420 and 17,520 euthyroid subjects, respectively. Here we report 26 independent associations, including several novel loci for TSH (PDE10A, VEGFA, IGFBP5, NFIA, SOX9, PRDM11, FGF7, INSR, ABO, MIR1179, NRG1, MBIP, ITPK1, SASH1, GLIS3) and FT4 (LHX3, FOXE1, AADAT, NETO1/FBXO15, LPCAT2/CAPNS2). Notably, only limited overlap was detected between TSH and FT4 associated signals, in spite of the feedback regulation of their circulating levels by the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Five of the reported loci (PDE8B, PDE10A, MAF/LOC440389, NETO1/FBXO15, and LPCAT2/CAPNS2) show strong gender-specific differences, which offer clues for the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and related pathologies. Importantly, the TSH-associated loci contribute not only to variation within the normal range, but also to TSH values outside the reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings explain, respectively, 5.64% and 2.30% of total TSH and FT4 trait variance, and they improve the current knowledge of the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function and the consequences of genetic variation for hypo- or hyperthyroidism.

Concepts: Genetics, Atrial fibrillation, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Endocrine system, Triiodothyronine


It has been proposed that neonatal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations are a good indicator of iodine deficiency in the population. A frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L below 3% has been proposed as the threshold indicating iodine sufficiency. The objective of the present study was to evaluate feasibility and usefulness of nation-wide neonatal TSH concentration screening results to assess iodine status in Belgium. All newborns born in Belgium during the period 2009-2011 (n = 377713) were included in the study, except those suffering from congenital hypothyroidism and premature neonates. The frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L from 2009 to 2011 in Belgium fluctuated between 2.6 and 3.3% in the centres using the same TSH assay. There was a significant inverse association between neonatal TSH level and birth weight. The longer the duration between birth and screening, the lower the TSH level. Neonatal TSH levels were significantly lower in winter than in spring or autumn and significantly lower in spring and summer than in autumn while significantly higher in spring compared to summer. In conclusion, despite that pregnant women in Belgium are mildly iodine deficient, the frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L was very low, suggesting that the neonatal TSH threshold proposed for detecting iodine deficiency needs to be re-evaluated. Although neonatal TSH is useful to detect severe iodine deficiency, it should not be recommended presently for the evaluation of iodine status in mildly iodine deficient regions.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Pediatrics, Winter, Cretinism


Congenital hypothyroidism, usually of the primary and permanent variety, is an eminently preventable cause of growth retardation and mental handicap whose outlook has been transformed by newborn screening, usually involving the measurement of capillary TSH. Severe primary congenital hypothyroidism, due for example to athyreosis, may result in subtle cognitive, behavioural and sensori-motor deficits, but the extent to which these can be offset by optimal postnatal diagnosis and management remains uncertain. This is because the available adult follow-up data reflect the outcome of previous management in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and also because the accurate neuro-psychological assessment of children is difficult, particularly in the preschool population. There is an urgent need to develop new consensus guidelines and to ensure that the children managed according to such guidelines are systematically and prospectively assessed so that good quality outcome data become available. In this review, key recommendations in the management of congenital hypothyroidism include: screening at day 3 so that severely affected infants can begin treatment within the first 10 days of life; setting the thyrotropin (TSH) referral cut-off at 8-10 mU/L; adopting a disciplined diagnostic algorithm to evaluate referred cases, with measurement of venous free thyroxine (T4), TSH and thyroglobulin combined with dual ultrasound and radioisotope imaging; initial treatment with a T4 dose of 50 μg daily in infants weighing ≥ 2.5 kg and 15 μg/kg/day in infants weighing < 2.5 kg followed by weekly review until thyroid function is normalised; and maintenance of free T4 levels between 15-26 pmol/L and TSH between 0.5-5 mU/L thereafter to avoid both under- and overtreatment.

Concepts: Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Thyroxine, Newborn screening, Congenital hypothyroidism


Background The use of levothyroxine to treat subclinical hypothyroidism is controversial. We aimed to determine whether levothyroxine provided clinical benefits in older persons with this condition. Methods We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial involving 737 adults who were at least 65 years of age and who had persisting subclinical hypothyroidism (thyrotropin level, 4.60 to 19.99 mIU per liter; free thyroxine level within the reference range). A total of 368 patients were assigned to receive levothyroxine (at a starting dose of 50 μg daily, or 25 μg if the body weight was <50 kg or the patient had coronary heart disease), with dose adjustment according to the thyrotropin level; 369 patients were assigned to receive placebo with mock dose adjustment. The two primary outcomes were the change in the Hypothyroid Symptoms score and Tiredness score on a thyroid-related quality-of-life questionnaire at 1 year (range of each scale is 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more symptoms or tiredness, respectively; minimum clinically important difference, 9 points). Results The mean age of the patients was 74.4 years, and 396 patients (53.7%) were women. The mean (±SD) thyrotropin level was 6.40±2.01 mIU per liter at baseline; at 1 year, this level had decreased to 5.48 mIU per liter in the placebo group, as compared with 3.63 mIU per liter in the levothyroxine group (P<0.001), at a median dose of 50 μg. We found no differences in the mean change at 1 year in the Hypothyroid Symptoms score (0.2±15.3 in the placebo group and 0.2±14.4 in the levothyroxine group; between-group difference, 0.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], -2.0 to 2.1) or the Tiredness score (3.2±17.7 and 3.8±18.4, respectively; between-group difference, 0.4; 95% CI, -2.1 to 2.9). No beneficial effects of levothyroxine were seen on secondary-outcome measures. There was no significant excess of serious adverse events prespecified as being of special interest. Conclusions Levothyroxine provided no apparent benefits in older persons with subclinical hypothyroidism. (Funded by European Union FP7 and others; TRUST number, NCT01660126 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Placebo


 To estimate the effectiveness and safety of thyroid hormone treatment among pregnant women with subclinical hypothyroidism.

Concepts: Childbirth, Prolactin, Thyroid disease, Constipation, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone


AIMS: Understanding the exact relationship between serum thyrotropin/thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT(4)) is a prerequisite for improving diagnostic reliability and clinical decision making. METHODS: We (1) retrospectively studied the relationship between TSH and FT(4) in a large unselected clinical sample (n=6641) of primary hypothyroid, euthyroid and hyperthyroid subjects, and (2) applied a mathematical model of thyroid hormone feedback control to assess the relation between structural parameters and TSH levels in the different functional states. RESULTS: When separately analysing total sample and untreated subjects, the correlation slope for logTSH versus FT(4) for hypothyroid subjects was significantly different from that of the euthyroid panel and hyperthyroid subjects (the latter being compromised by reaching the TSH assay’s lower detection limit). As trends between functional states changed, each functional segment appeared to become differently regulated. Theoretical modelling and sensitivity analysis revealed that the influence of various structural parameters on TSH levels also depends on the overall function of the feedback loop. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that the states of hypothyroidism, euthyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be regarded as differently regulated entities. The apparent complexity could be replicated by mathematical modelling suggesting a hierarchical type of feedback regulation involving patterns of operative mechanisms unique to each condition. For clinical purposes and assay evaluation, neither the standard model relating logTSH with FT(4), nor an alternative model based on non-competitive inhibition can be reliably represented by a single correlation comparing all samples for both hormones in one all-inclusive group.

Concepts: Physics, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Thyroid disease, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Triiodothyronine


Despite the introduction of salt iodization programmes as national measures to control iodine deficiency, several European countries are still suffering from mild iodine deficiency (MID). In iodine sufficient or mildly iodine deficient areas, iodine deficiency during pregnancy frequently appears in case the maternal thyroid gland cannot meet the demand for increasing production of thyroid hormones (TH) and its effect may be damaging for the neurodevelopment of the foetus. MID during pregnancy may lead to hypothyroxinaemia in the mother and/or elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in the foetus, and these conditions have been found to be related to mild and subclinical cognitive and psychomotor deficits in neonates, infants and children. The consequences depend upon the timing and severity of the hypothyroxinaemia. However, it needs to be noted that it is difficult to establish a direct link between maternal iodine deficiency and maternal hypothyroxinaemia, as well as between maternal iodine deficiency and elevated neonatal TSH levels at birth. Finally, some studies suggest that iodine supplementation from the first trimester until the end of pregnancy may decrease the risk of cognitive and psychomotor developmental delay in the offspring.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Infant, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Iodine, Triiodothyronine


Context:Clinicians who prescribe levothyroxine (LT4) for hypothyroidism often feel strongly about using a brand-name drug instead of a generic.Objective:The objective of the study was to determine whether Synthroid resulted in better control of congenital hypothyroidism than generic LT4.Design:This was a 5-year retrospective study.Setting:The study was conducted at 1 tertiary care center.Patients:Children who were 0-36 months old with congenital hypothyroidism followed up at our center from 2006 to 2011 were treated with either Synthroid exclusively (35 subjects) or generic LT4 exclusively (27 subjects).Interventions:We recorded the subjects' TSH and free T(4) measurements, how often their LT4 dose was adjusted, and the duration of follow-up.Main Outcome Measure:TSH variance between the groups was measured. Secondary end points were the frequency of LT4 dose changes and the variance in free T4.Results:Using the Wilcoxon rank sum test, there was no difference in TSH SD in the Synthroid group compared with the generic group (median 3.0 vs 2.2, P = .27). Using a linear mixed model, children treated with the generic LT4 had lower TSH estimated SD [1.35 with 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.194, 1.526)] than the Synthroid group [1.66 with 95% CI (1.536, 1.803)]. Similarly, no difference was observed in free T(4) SD between the groups using the Wilcoxon rank sum test (median 0.29 generic vs 0.36 Synthroid, P = .11), but the generic group had lower free T(4) estimated SD than the Synthroid group using the linear mixed model [0.216 with 95% CI (0.187, 0.249) vs 0.298 with 95% CI (0.273,0.326)]. Frequency of LT4 dosing adjustments was similar between the groups, both in total (median 2.0 for generic vs 3.0 for Synthroid, P = .097) and when adjusted for number of TSH checks (ratio 0.25 generic vs 0.31 Synthroid, P = .45).Conclusions:In our study of congenital hypothyroidism, generic LT4 treatment resulted in similar or better control of hypothyroidism compared with Synthroid, as assessed by the clinical outcomes of TSH variance and the frequency of LT4 dosing adjustments.

Concepts: Statistics, Measurement, Mann–Whitney U, Non-parametric statistics, Hypothyroidism, Normal distribution, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Levothyroxine