Insulin sensitivity and counter-regulatory hormones in hypothyroidism and during thyroid hormone replacement therapy

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(7):715-20. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2005.121.


We examined insulin sensitivity and secretion, together with the levels of selected glucoregulatory hormones, in 15 female patients with severe hypothyroidism (H) and during subsequent thyroid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) using the euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp technique. Insulin action, as evaluated by glucose disposal, the insulin sensitivity index, and fasting post-hepatic insulin delivery rate were established. The basal levels of insulin, C-peptide and counter-regulatory hormones were measured in basal condition. In H, glucose disposal (p<0.01), the insulin sensitivity index (p<0.01) and post-hepatic insulin delivery rate (p<0.05) were significantly lower than during HRT. No significant changes in the levels of fasting insulin and C-peptide were observed. The levels of counter-regulatory hormones in patients with H were significantly higher than during HRT (glucagon, p<0.05; epinephrine, p<0.01; cortisol, p<0.05; growth hormone, p<0.05). In H, an inverse correlation between insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion was observed (p<0.05). Cortisol was the most important factor affecting the variability of insulin sensitivity values, regardless of thyroid function (p=0.0012). In conclusion, H altered both insulin sensitivity and the levels of selected counter-regulatory hormones. The situation was restored by HRT, as manifested not only by normalisation of insulin sensitivity, secretion and levels of glucoregulatory hormones, but also by improvement of their relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Female
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use*


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Glucagon
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Epinephrine