[Absorption, transport and bio-availability of iodothyronines]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2008 Aug;133(31-32):1644-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1082780.
[Article in German]


The frequently prescribed classical thyroid hormones (iodothyronines) are critical dose drugs with a narrow therapeutic index. Nowadays the mechanisms of their absorption, which takes place predominantly in the jejunum and ileum, have only partly been elucidated. Bioavailability of iodothyronines whose kinetics is subject to enterohepatic circulation, is about 70 %. Several factors influence their absorption including nutrients, drugs and concomitant diseases. After being absorbed only a small fraction of thyroid hormones circulates freely in plasma, whereas the greater portion is bound to plasma proteins. This binding, too, may be influenced by numerous factors; alterations by certain diseases and physiological conditions may lead to ambiguities in differential diagnosis. Intracellular accumulation of iodothyronines is accomplished by at least ten different active and energy-dependent transporters with variable tissue distribution. Particularly in critical illness (non-thyroidal illness syndrome) alterations of protein binding and membrane transport are common. In therapy of hypothyroid patients different brand-name products lack bioequivalence and thus requiring subsequent monitoring of thyroid status after treatment has been changed among different brand-name versions.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Biological Transport
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Protein Binding
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyroid Hormones / pharmacokinetics*
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use


  • Blood Proteins
  • Thyroid Hormones