Blood volumes and renal function in overt and subclinical primary hypothyroidism

Am J Med Sci. 1999 Oct;318(4):277-80. doi: 10.1097/00000441-199910000-00007.


Introduction: Thyroid dysfunction is associated with marked alterations in cardiovascular and renal functions. In hypothyroidism, myocardial contractility, cardiac output, and oxygen consumption are decreased, whereas peripheral resistance is increased.

Methods: We assessed blood volumes and effective renal plasma blood flow (ERPF) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in 17 patients with overt primary hypothyroidism and in 15 of these patients when in euthyroid state after substitutive therapy. We performed the same measurements in eight patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.

Results: In the hypothyroid state, the plasma volume measured by dilution of 125I-albumin (APV) was higher than the calculated plasma volume (CPV) from packed red cell mass, suggesting an extravascular escape of albumin. After substitutive therapy, the CPV showed a statistical increase (P < 0.05), whereas APV remained unchanged. Both ERPF and GFR increased after thyroxine therapy (p < 0.05). In the subclinical group, blood volumes and renal function were similar to those found in the other group of patients when in the euthyroid state.

Conclusions: We conclude that in primary hypothyroidism, ERPF and GFR are low, but that these values improve with substitutive therapy. CPV is a better index of the current plasma volume than APV. The difference between these two parameters suggests that the escape of albumin into the extravascular space in primary hypothyroidism is terminated by treatment. There are no clear abnormalities either in blood volumes or in renal function in subclinical hypothyroidism.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Volume*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myxedema / blood
  • Myxedema / drug therapy
  • Myxedema / physiopathology*
  • Renal Plasma Flow, Effective*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use


  • Serum Albumin
  • Thyroxine