Is zinc deficiency a cause of subclinical hypothyroidism in Down syndrome?

Ann Genet. 1990;33(1):9-15.


In Down syndrome there is a high incidence of overt or subclinical hypothyroidism as well as some immunological defects, early thymic involution associated to low serum zinc levels. Zinc supplementation to the diet has been reported to transiently improve thymic function; moreover thymic function has been shown to be in relation with the pituitary-thyroid axis. The aim of this study was to evaluate if, in Down patients, zinc therapy could improve also thyroid function, by determining serum levels of total and free thyroid hormones and basal TSH levels. In 52 patients studied, we found a high incidence of subclinical hypothyroidism (30%); in 17 patients treated with zinc sulphate we showed a reduction of FT3. More significantly, we detected 9 patients with low zinc levels in which zinc supplementation improved thyroid function, thus reducing the incidence of subclinical hypothyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / blood
  • Down Syndrome / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / physiopathology
  • Thyroglobulin / immunology
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Autoantibodies
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • anti-thyroglobulin
  • thyroid microsomal antibodies
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Zinc