Maximum acute exercise tolerance in hyperthyroid and hypothyroid rats subjected to forced swimming

Horm Metab Res. 2008 Apr;40(4):276-80. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1046799.


Thyroid dysfunction can compromise physical capacity. Here, we analyze the effects of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism on maximum swim time in rats subjected to acute forced swimming, as an indicator of anaerobic capacity. Animals were forced to swim against a load (5% of body weight) attached to the tail and were killed 48 hours after the last test. Hyperthyroid rats were treated with thyroxine (50 mug/100 g body weight, i. p. for 7 days). The hypothyroid group received 0.03% methimazole in the drinking water for 4 weeks. Thyroid state was confirmed by alterations in serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and liver mitochondrial glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase (mGPD) activity. Hyperthyroid rats presented significantly lower visceral fat mass (VFM) and higher food intake (p<0.05) with unchanged body weight. Maximum swim time (MST), glycogen content (skeletal muscle and liver), and leptin levels were lower while corticosterone was higher (p<0.05). In hypothyroid rats body weight was lower (p<0.05), without changes in VFM. Tested at 7-day intervals, MST was lower for tests 2, 3, and 4 (p<0.05). Muscle glycogen was higher in extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and soleus (p<0.05), without changes in liver. Serum corticosterone was lower, while leptin was higher (p<0.05). These results suggest that in hyperthyroid and hypothyroid rats, thyroid hormones together with corticosterone and/or leptin may impair exercise capacity differently through its known effects on glycogen metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Eating / physiology
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Hyperthyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Liver Glycogen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood


  • Leptin
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Thyrotropin
  • Glycogen
  • Thyroxine
  • Corticosterone