Thyrotropin isoforms: implications for thyrotropin analysis and clinical practice

Thyroid. 2014 Mar;24(3):411-23. doi: 10.1089/thy.2013.0119. Epub 2013 Dec 13.


Serum thyrotropin (TSH) is considered the single most sensitive and specific measure of thyroid function in the general population owing to its negative logarithmic association with free triiodothyronine and free thyroxine concentrations. It is therefore often the test of choice for screening, diagnosis, and monitoring of primary hypothyroidism. Serum TSH concentrations can be analyzed quantitatively using third-generation immunoassays, whereas its bioactivity can be measured by TSH activity assays in cell culture. Theoretically, if serum TSH concentrations are directly related to TSH activity, the two tests should yield comparable results. However, on occasion, the results are discordant, with serum concentrations being higher than TSH biological activity. This review focuses on the dissociation between the clinical state and serum TSH concentrations and addresses clinically important aspects of TSH analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis*
  • Immunoassay
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Thyroid Function Tests*
  • Thyrotropin / analysis*
  • Thyrotropin / blood


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Thyrotropin