The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis plays a key role in skeletal development, acquisition of peak bone mass and regulation of adult bone turnover. Euthyroid status is essential for maintenance of optimal bone mineralization and strength. In population studies, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have both been associated with an increased risk of fracture. Furthermore, recent studies in healthy euthyroid post-menopausal women indicate that thyroid status in the upper normal range is also associated with low bone mineral density and an increased risk of non-vertebral fracture. Studies in mutant mice have demonstrated that thyroid hormone receptor α is the major mediator of T3 action in bone and that thyroid hormones exert anabolic actions during growth but have catabolic effects on the adult skeleton. Nevertheless, TSH has also been proposed to be a direct negative regulator of bone turnover, although the relative importance of T3 and TSH actions in the skeleton has yet to be clarified.
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