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Journal: Thyroid research


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


Deficiencies of iodine and iron may have adverse effect on thyroid function. This study was undertaken to investigate the association between iron status and thyroid function in Nepalese children living in hilly regions.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, The Association, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Iodine, Triiodothyronine, Goitre, Cretinism


Radioiodine represents a cost-effective treatment option for Graves' disease. In the UK, it is traditionally reserved for patients who relapse after initial thionamide therapy. In a change from current practice, the new guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that radioiodine should now be first line therapy for Graves' disease. However, the safety of radioiodine with respect to long-term mortality risk has been the subject of recent debate. This analysis examines evidence from treatment related mortality studies in hyperthyroidism and discusses their implications for future Graves' disease treatment strategies.


BACKGROUND: Lithium is an integral drug used in the management of acute mania, unipolar and bipolar depression and prophylaxis of bipolar disorders. Thyroid abnormalities associated with treatment with lithium have been widely reported in medical literature to date. These include goitre, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis. This current review explores the varied thyroid abnormalities frequently encountered among patients on lithium therapy and their management, since lithium is still a fundamental and widely drug used in psychiatry and Internal Medicine. METHODS: PubMed database and Google scholar were used to search for relevant English language articles relating to lithium therapy and thyroid abnormalities up to December 2012. The search terms used were lithium treatment, thyroid abnormalities, thyroid dysfunction, goitre, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxicosis, autoimmune thyroiditis, lithium toxicity, treatment of affective disorders and depression and side effects of antipsychotic drugs. Reference lists of the identified articles were further used to identify other studies. RESULTS: Lithium affects normal thyroid functioning through multiple mechanisms. At the cellular level, it decreases thyroid hormone synthesis and release. It also decreases peripheral deiodination of tetraiodothyronine (T4) or thyroxine by decreasing the activity of type I 5' de-iodinase enzyme. Hypothyroidism and goitre (clinically and/ultrasonographically detected) are the most prevalent thyroid abnormalities among patients on long term lithium therapy. Lithium induced hyperthyroidism is very infrequent. Lithium increases the propensity to thyroid autoimmunity in susceptible individuals due to its effect of augmenting the activity of B lymphocytes and reducing the ratio of circulating suppressor to cytotoxic T cells. CONCLUSIONS: Thyroid function tests (serum thyroid stimulating hormone, free thyroid hormones-T4 and triiodothyronine [T3] concentrations and thyroid auto-antibodies) and assessment of thyroid size clinically and by thyroid ultrasonography ought to be performed among patients initiating lithium therapy at baseline and later annually. More frequent assessment of thyroid function status and size during the course of therapy is recommended among middle aged females (>=50 years), patients with a family history of thyroid disease and those positive for thyroid auto-antibodies (anti-thyroid peroxidase and TSH receptor antibodies).

Concepts: Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Graves' disease, Bipolar disorder, Triiodothyronine, Lithium pharmacology


BACKGROUND: Recent attention has been given to subclinical hypothyroidism, defined as an elevation of TSH (4.5-10 uIU/L) with T4 and T3 levels still within the normal range. Controversy exists about the proper lower limit of TSH that defines patients in the subclinical hypothyroidism range and about if/when subclinical hypothyroidism should be treated. Additional data are needed to examine the relationship between markers of thyroid function in the subclinical hypothyroidism range, biomarkers of health and ultimately health outcomes. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to assess the relationship between serum TSH levels in the 0.5-10 uIU/L range and serum cortisol in a cohort of healthy young men and women without clinical evidence of hypothyroidism. Based on data in frank hypothyroidism, we hypothesized that serum TSH levels would be positively correlated with serum cortisol levels, suggesting derangement of the cortisol axis even in subclinical hypothyroidism. METHODS: We conducted a cross sectional study in 54 healthy, young (mean 20.98 +/- 0.37 yrs) men (19) and women (35). Lab sessions took place at 1300 hrs where blood was drawn via indwelling catheter for later assessment of basal serum TSH, free T3, free T4, and cortisol levels. RESULTS: All but 1 participant had free T3 levels within the normal reference intervals; free T4 levels for all participants were within the normal reference intervals. Linear regression modeling revealed that TSH levels in the 0.5-10 uIU/L were significantly and positively correlated with cortisol levels. This positive TSH-cortisol relationship was maintained below the accepted 4.5 uIU/L subclinical hypothyroid cutoff. Separate regression analyses conducted by systematically dropping the TSH cutoff by 0.50 uIU/L revealed that the TSH-cortisol relationship was maintained for TSH levels (uIU/L) <=4.0, <=3.5, <=3.0, and <=2.5 but not <=2.0. Linear regression modeling did not reveal a relationship between free T3 or free T4 levels and cortisol levels. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest a positive relationship between TSH and cortisol in apparently healthy young individuals. In as much as this relationship may herald a pathologic disorder, these preliminary results suggest that TSH levels > 2.0 uIU/L may be abnormal. Future research should address this hypothesis further, for instance through an intervention study.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Cortisol, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid


Whilst trials of combination levothyroxine/liothyronine therapy versus levothyroxine monotherapy for thyroid hormone replacement have not shown any superiority, there remains a small subset of patients who do not feel well on monotherapy. Whilst current guidelines do not suggest routine use of combination therapy they do acknowledge a trial in such patients may be appropriate. It appears that use of combination therapy and dessicated thyroid extract is not uncommon but often being used by non-specialists and not adequately monitored. This review aims to provide practical advice on selecting patients, determining dose and monitoring of such a trial.

Concepts: Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Triiodothyronine, Thyroxine, Tyrosine, Desiccated thyroid extract


Struma ovarii is a rare monodermal germ cell tumor where the ovary is comprised of at least half thyroid tissue. This phenomenon may indicate an embryological origin.

Concepts: Gene, Oncology, Ovarian cancer, Germ cell tumor, Teratoma, Germ cell


The heart is a major target organ for thyroid hormone action. Severe overt hypothyroidism can result in diastolic hypertension, lowered cardiac output, impaired left ventricular contractility and diastolic relaxation, pericardial effusion and bradycardia. However, the function of the atrial pacemaker is usually normal and the degree by which the heart rate slows down is often modest. Here we report the case of a 20 year old male Caucasian with severe overt hypothyroidism. He presented with syncopation due to second degree atrioventricular block type Mobitz 2 and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (38 %). Laboratory testing revealed a severe overt hypothyroidism with markedly elevated TSH (>100 mIU/L) and reduced fT3 and fT4 levels. The condition was caused by hypothyroid Graves' disease (Graves' disease with Hashimoto component). Although magnetic resonance imaging of the heart demonstrated decreased cardiac contractility and pericardial effusion, suggesting peri-myocarditis, plasma levels for BNP and troponin I were low. A possible infectious cause was unlikely, since testing for cardiotropic viruses was negative. The patient was treated with intravenous levothyroxine and after peripheral euthyroidism had been achieved, left ventricular ejection fraction returned to normal and pericardial effusion dissolved. Additionally, bradycardiac episodes abated, although intermittent second degree AV block was still occasionally present during the night. In conclusion, overt hypothyroidism may be associated by cardiac myxedema affecting both electrophysiology and contractility, observations that underscore the necessity of thyroid testing in different phenotypes of heart failure.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Ejection fraction, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Thyroid disease, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid


Selenium (Se), an essential trace element, is inserted as selenocysteine into an array of functional proteins and forms the core of various enzymes that play a cardinal role in antioxidant defense mechanisms, in redox regulation, and in thyroid hormone metabolism. Variations in plasma Se are due to nutritional habits, geographic and ethnic differences, and probably to genetic polymorphisms, the latter still to be conclusively established. Se concentrations were reported to be low in women of reproductive age in the UK, decreasing further during pregnancy, this resulting in low plasma and placental antioxidant enzyme activities. Since low serum Se levels have been found in women with preeclampsia, it has been hypothesized that low maternal Se status during early gestation may be an indicator of preterm birth. Moreover, it is documented that Se administration during pregnancy tendentially reduced the markers of thyroid autoimmunity and the incidence of maternal hypothyroidism in the postpartum period. Importantly, low Se levels in pregnant women affect fetal growth and augment the risk of delivering a small-for-gestational age infant by reducing placental antioxidant defense, while low Se in the third trimester is thought to indicate increased demands by the placenta, an issue which requires further confirmation. There is evidently a need for double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to better determine the efficacy and safety of Se supplementation in pregnancy at high risk for complications, and for measurement of Se levels or of selenoprotein P, the most reliable parameter of Se status, particularly in selenopenic regions.


131-iodine (131I) administration after surgery remains a standard practice in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). In 2014, the American Thyroid Association presented new guidelines for the staging and management of DTC, including no systematic 131I in patients at low-risk of recurrence and a reduced 131I activity in intermediate risk.The present study aims at evaluating the rate of response to treatment following this new therapeutic management compared to our previous treatment strategy in patients with DTC of different risks of recurrence.