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Concept: 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


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


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


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


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


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


Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) is becoming a global health problem due to its increasing prevalence and potential deleterious effects. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the lipid metabolic disorders in SCH have not been fully clarified. Additionally, progress in elucidating the exact pathogenesis of SCH has been hampered by the lack of optimized mouse models. Methimazole (MMI) was applied to construct a noninvasive SCH mouse model. Eight-week-old C57BL/6 mice were administrated MMI through the drinking water. After 12 weeks, the MMI-treated mice showed the diagnostic criteria for SCH: increased serum thyrotropin (TSH) levels with constant thyroid hormone levels that persisted for approximately 8 weeks. Notably, SCH mice presented evident lipid metabolic disturbances, including dyslipidemia and hepatic lipid accumulation. Further analysis showed that hepatic endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress) was induced in the SCH mice or by the elevation of TSH in vitro, likely via the IRE1α/XBP-1 pathway. Interestingly, when we used 4-phenyl butyric acid to repress ER stress in SCH mice for 4 weeks, dyslipidemia and hepatic lipid accumulation were both significantly alleviated. Our findings indicate that an optimized SCH mouse model could be established using MMI, and ER stress may play a pivotal role in the lipid metabolic abnormalities in SCH.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Endoplasmic reticulum, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone


Thyroid disorders are known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Epicardial fat thickness (EFT) and oxidative stress are also believed to be major risk factors for cardiovascular events. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible relationship between oxidative stress parameters and EFT in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Blood vessel, Risk, The Canon of Medicine, Cardiovascular disease, Oxidative phosphorylation, Hypothyroidism


Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) has been associated with increased carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT) in recent studies, but the effects of levothyroxine (L-T4) therapy on C-IMT in SCH patients are still controversial.

Concepts: Effect, Hypothyroidism


Background and objectives : Subclinical hypothyroidism is an asymptomatic condition with normal thyroxin and raised thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism in primary health care (PHC) settings in Riyadh and explore the relationship of TSH level with age, gender, family history, body mass index, and co-morbid conditions.Subjects and methods: A cross-sectional study of adult visitors to nine satellites PHC clinics in military housing in Riyadh was carried out. TSH concentration and free T4 levels were measured. Data were collected by nurses and physicians during routine clinical practice in primary care. Descriptive analysis was performed on all variables in study, and relationships were explored using chi-square,t-test, analysis of variance, and linear regression.Results: A total of 340 out of 394 participants in the study gave blood samples. Subclinical hyperthyroidism was identified in 2.1% (p = .001) and subclinical hypothyroidism in 10.3% (p = .001) of the PHC visitors. TSH levels were found to be significantly higher (p = .047) in elderly population of ≥60 years and those with family history of thyroid disease. Non-significant upward trends were noted in TSH levels with hyperlipidemia and increasing blood pressure. No overt hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism was found in our study sample.Conclusion: Subclinical hypothyroidism has a prevalence of 10% of adults visiting PHC’s. TSH levels are higher in the elderly, which warrants screening of those aged 60 years and above.

Concepts: Health, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Thyroid disease, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone