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Review
. 2005 Sep;90(9):5483-8.
doi: 10.1210/jc.2005-0455.

The Evidence for a Narrower Thyrotropin Reference Range Is Compelling

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Review

The Evidence for a Narrower Thyrotropin Reference Range Is Compelling

Leonard Wartofsky et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. .

Abstract

Debate and controversy currently surround the recommendations of a recent consensus conference that considered issues related to the management of early, mild, or so-called subclinical hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Intimately related to the controversy is the definition of the normal reference range for TSH. It has become clear that previously accepted reference ranges are no longer valid as a result of both the development of more highly sensitive TSH assays and the appreciation that reference populations previously considered normal were contaminated with individuals with various degrees of thyroid dysfunction that served to increase mean TSH levels for the group. Recent laboratory guidelines from the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry indicate that more than 95% of normal individuals have TSH levels below 2.5 mU/liter. The remainder with higher values are outliers, most of whom are likely to have underlying Hashimoto thyroiditis or other causes of elevated TSH. Importantly, data indicating that African-Americans with very low incidence of Hashimoto thyroiditis have a mean TSH level of 1.18 mU/liter strongly suggest that this value is the true normal mean for a normal population. Recognition and establishment of a more precise and true normal range for TSH have important implications for both screening and treatment of thyroid disease in general and subclinical thyroid disease in particular.

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