T3/rT3-ratio is associated with insulin resistance independent of TSH

Horm Metab Res. 2011 Feb;43(2):130-4. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1267997. Epub 2010 Nov 22.


Thyroid dysfunction has been shown to be associated with insulin resistance (IR). This may involve peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism, which is assumed to be reflected by the ratio triiodothyronine/reverse triiodothyronine (T3/rT3-ratio). To explore a potential association between the T3/rT3-ratio and IR we investigated pairs which differed in IR, but were matched by sex, age, body mass index (BMI), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). For this purpose, matched pair analyses were embedded into a cross sectional study group. 22 pairs were matched from either the first or the third tertile of HOMA%S of a cohort of 353 euthyroid subjects with normal glucose metabolism who did not take any medication. The T3/rT3-ratio was compared in the matched pairs. The T3/rT3-ratio was significantly increased in the insulin resistant subjects compared to their insulin sensitive partners (8.78 ± 0.47 vs. 7.33 ± 0.33, p=0.019). Furthermore the T3/rT3-ratio was lower in men compared to women (p for the within-subject effect=0.046) both in the insulin sensitive and the insulin resistant subjects. Here we show that the T3/rT3-ratio, which is supposed to reflect the tissue thyroid hormone metabolism, is significantly increased in insulin resistant subjects. This further supports a link between thyroid function and IR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyrotropin / blood*
  • Triiodothyronine / blood*
  • Triiodothyronine, Reverse / blood*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Triiodothyronine, Reverse
  • Thyrotropin