Bio-energetic Impairment in Human Calf Muscle in Thyroid Disorders: A 31P MRS Study

Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Jun;28(5):683-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Mar 23.


Mitochondrial metabolism particularly oxidative phosphorylation is greatly influenced by thyroid hormones. Earlier studies have described neuromuscular symptoms as well as impaired muscle metabolism in hypothyroid and hyperthyroid patients. In this study, we intend to look in to the muscle bioenergetics including phosphocreatine recovery kinetics based oxidative metabolism in thyroid dysfunction using in vivo (31)P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). (31)P MRS was carried out at resting state on 32 hypothyroid, 10 hyperthyroid patients and 25 control subjects. Nine out of 32 hypothyroid patients and 17 out of 25 control subjects under went exercise protocol for oxidative metabolism study and performed plantar flexion exercise while lying supine in 1.5 T magnetic resonance scanner using custom built exercise device. MRS measurements of inorganic phosphate (Pi), phosphocreatine (PCr), phosphodiesters (PDE) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) of the calf muscle were acquired during rest, exercise and recovery phase. PCr recovery rate constant (k(PCr)) and oxidative capacity were calculated by monoexponential fit of PCr versus time (t) at the beginning of recovery. During resting condition in hypothyroid patients, PCr/Pi ratio was reduced whereas PDE/ATP and Pi/ATP were increased. However, in case of hyperthyroidism, an increased PCr/Pi ratio and reduced PDE/ATP and Pi/ATP were observed. The results confirmed differential energy status of the muscle due to increased or decreased levels of thyroid hormone. Our results also demonstrate reduced oxidative metabolism in hypothyroid patients based on PCr recovery kinetics. PCr recovery kinetics study after exercise revealed decreased PCr recovery rate constant (k(PCr)) in hypothyroid patients compared to controls that resulted in decrease in oxidative capacity of muscle by 50% in hypothyroids. These findings are consistent with a defect of high energy phosphate mitochondrial metabolism in thyroid dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis*
  • Hypothyroidism / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Phosphocreatine / analysis*
  • Phosphorus Isotopes / analysis
  • Thigh
  • Young Adult


  • Phosphorus Isotopes
  • Phosphocreatine