Psychoneuroendocrine effects of combined thyroxine and triiodothyronine versus tyrosine during prolonged Antarctic residence

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2007 Dec;66(5):401-17.


Objectives: We previously reported that cognitive function improves with thyroxine and that there is a circannual pattern to mood and human TSH during Antarctic residence. To extend these findings, we examined the effects of tyrosine and a combined levothyroxine/liothyronine supplement in euthyroid men and women who spent the austral summer (n = 43) and/or winter (n = 42) in Antarctica.

Study design: Randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial.

Methods: Subjects were randomized to receive the following each day for 91.6 +/- 3.2 days in summer and/or 138.0 +/- 3.2 days in winter: (1) 12g tyrosine mixed in 113g applesauce; (2) 50 microg of levothyroxine and 12.5 microg of liothyronine (T4-T3 Supplement); or (3) placebo. Cognitive performance and mood were assessed using the Automatic Neuropsychological Assessment Metric - Isolated and Confined Environments.

Results: With placebo in summer, mood did not change while TSH decreased by 28%; in winter, there was a 136% degradation in mood (p < 0.01) and TSH increased by 18%. With combined T4-T3 supplement, there was a 51% degradation in mood in summer compared with placebo (p < 0.05) and TSH decreased by 57%; in winter there was a 135% degradation in mood while TSH was reduced by 26% (p < 0.05). Tyrosine use in summer was associated with no change in mood and a 30% decline in TSH, while in winter there was a 47% improvement in mood and TSH decreased by 28% along with a 6% increase in fT3 (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Administration of tyrosine leads to a significant reduction in serum TSH and improvement in mood in winter compared with placebo, while the combined T4-T3 supplement leads to a worsening of mood in summer and no improvement in winter. There appears to be a seasonal influence on the psychological response to interventions and the relationship to changes in TSH reductions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seasons
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use*
  • Triiodothyronine / therapeutic use*
  • Tyrosine / therapeutic use*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Tyrosine
  • thyroxine, triiodothyronine drug combination
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine