Effects of either LT4 monotherapy or LT4/LT3 combined therapy in patients totally thyroidectomized for thyroid cancer

Thyroid. 2007 Apr;17(4):323-31. doi: 10.1089/thy.2006.0084.


After total thyroidectomy all thyroid cancer patients require lifelong treatment with thyroid hormones; the treatment of choice is synthetic levothyroxine (LT4). The question of whether these patients might benefit from the combined LT4 and liothyronine (LT3) treatment has been addressed with conflicting conclusions. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of combined low LT4/LT3 molar ratio therapy versus LT4 monotherapy on various target organs and tissues in patients thyroidectomized for thyroid cancer. Urine collection (24 hour), a fasting blood sample for laboratory examinations, thyroid function clinical score, and cardiovascular, neurological, and neuropsychological evaluations were obtained. Clinical parameters and peripheral markers of thyroid function were measured during the two different treatment regimens in 20 patients. Mean serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, sex hormone binding globulin, and osteocalcin values were significantly higher during the combined treatment. No significant differences in the clinical score, the systolic and diastolic performance, and the neurological and neuropsychological evaluations were observed between the two treatment regimens. Moreover, no alteration due to subclinical hyperthyroidism or to the fluctuations in serum T3 concentrations during the combined therapy was observed. In conclusion, we found no evidence that combined therapy with a low LT4/LT3 molar ratio resulted in improved well-being and cognitive function or in increased thyroid hormone action on peripheral tissues in respect to LT4 monotherapy. Until future large, blind, randomized, and controlled trials prove otherwise, LT4 should remain the standard treatment for thyroid cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / administration & dosage
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use*
  • Triiodothyronine / administration & dosage*
  • Triiodothyronine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / therapeutic use


  • Lipids
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine