Nutritional state alters the association between free triiodothyronine levels and mortality in hemodialysis patients

Am J Nephrol. 2011;33(4):305-12. doi: 10.1159/000324883. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


Background: Serum free triiodothyronine (fT3) level is suggested to be a risk factor for mortality in unselected dialysis patients. We investigated the prognostic value of serum fT3 levels and also low-T3 syndrome on overall survival in a large cohort of hemodialysis (HD) patients with normal thyroid-stimulating hormone levels.

Methods: A total of 669 prevalent HD patients were enrolled in the study. Serum fT3 level was measured by enzyme immune assay in frozen sera samples at the time of enrollment. Overall mortality was assessed during 48 months of follow-up.

Results: Baseline fT3 was 1.47 ± 0.43 (0.01-2.98) pg/ml, and low-T3 syndrome was present in 71.7% of the cases. During a mean follow-up of 34 ± 16 months, 165 (24.7%) patients died. fT3 level was a strong predictor for mortality in crude and adjusted Cox models including albumin or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). Further adjustment for both albumin and hs-CRP made the impact of fT3 on mortality disappear. The presence of low-T3 syndrome was associated with mortality in only the unadjusted model.

Conclusions: Low-T3 syndrome is a frequent finding among HD patients, but it does not predict outcome. However, serum fT3 level is a strong and inverse mortality predictor, in part explained by its underlying association with nutritional state and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Triiodothyronine / blood*


  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin