Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Find Adding Natural Hormone Boosts Brain Function In Hypothyroidism

Date:
February 16, 1999
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Adding a second natural hormone known as triiodothyronine to the standard treatment for patients suffering from hypothyroidism can boost mood and mental function, according to a new study. The findings may improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of hypothyroidism patients in the United States alone, researchers say. Under-activity of the thyroid gland affects about 1 percent of the population.

CHAPEL HILL - Adding a second natural hormone known as triiodothyronine to the standard treatment for patients suffering from hypothyroidism can boost mood and mental function, according to a new study.

The findings may improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of hypothyroidism patients in the United States alone, researchers say. Under-activity of the thyroid gland affects about 1 percent of the population.

A report on the research, conducted in Lithuania with help from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher, appears in the Feb. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors are Drs. Robertas Bunevicius, Gintautas Kazanavicius and Rimas Zalinkevicius of Kaunas Medical University in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Arthur J. Prange, professor of psychiatry at the UNC-CH School of Medicine.

"Some patients who have lost their thyroid gland to disease, surgery or injuries complain that they are not as mentally sharp as they used to be," Prange said. "They say their sense of well-being, energy, memory and various other facets of brain function have declined."

The thyroid gland produces two hormones - thyroxine, or T4, and triiodothyronine, also called T3, he explained. Traditionally, hormone replacement is limited to T4 because most body tissues can convert T4 to T3 on their own.

"We said to ourselves that perhaps the little bit of T3 that is normally secreted by the thyroid gland is important to the brain, if not to other tissues," Prange said.

Bunevicius, who worked with Prange in Chapel Hill with the aid of a Fulbright grant, and colleagues studied 33 hypothyroidism patients in Lithuania for two five-week periods. They divided the patients in half randomly, giving one group their usual dose of T4 alone and the other a reduced amount of T4 combined with T3 substitution. After the first five weeks, they reversed the treatment pattern.

When each regimen ended, they performed biochemical, physiologic and psychological tests.

"We found there wasn't much difference between the two treatments in terms of metabolic effects or effects on various peripheral organs," Prange said. "There were big differences, however, in the mental state of the patients. If these findings hold up, they will be very important."

All but two volunteers fared better in terms of memory, mood, concentration, depression, energy and other characteristics on the combined therapy, he said. When asked at the end of the study which treatment they preferred, 20 of the 33 preferred the combined therapy, 11 had no opinion and two preferred T4 alone.

About 80 percent of patients who may benefit would be women since hypothyroidism affects four women - often in the prime of life - for every man. Some patients complain of psychological symptoms, Prange said, while their endocrinologists find nothing else wrong with their thyroid function. Doctors then cannot offer further help, which increases patients' frustration.

"From this work we concluded that the small amount of T3 secreted by the normal thyroid gland may be important to the brain even if it is not very important to other tissues," Prange said.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Anthony D. Toft of the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland, wrote that doctors should not yet begin to treat hypothyroidism patients with a combination of thyroxine and triiodothyronine for several reasons.

First, Toft said, the new results should be verified in other studies, and other factors such as exercise tolerance and heart performance should be assessed. Second, combined thyroid hormone treatments now available contain excess triiodothyronine and should be changed to reflect a 10-to-1 ratio of thyroxine to triiodothyronine.

"Finally, it should not be forgotten that the majority of patients taking a dose of thyroxine that satisfies the recommendations of the American Thyroid Association have no complaints about their medication," he wrote.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Scientists Find Adding Natural Hormone Boosts Brain Function In Hypothyroidism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/02/990216073006.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (1999, February 16). Scientists Find Adding Natural Hormone Boosts Brain Function In Hypothyroidism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/02/990216073006.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Scientists Find Adding Natural Hormone Boosts Brain Function In Hypothyroidism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/02/990216073006.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins