Background: Although some studies reported on the association of serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration and cognition, only one population-based study investigated the association of TSH concentration and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Objective: To investigate the gender-specific association of low- and high-normal TSH concentrations with MCI in euthyroid participants.
Methods: Analysis sample 1 included 2,563 euthyroid participants (aged 50-80 years) from the second examination of the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall study. Gender-specific TSH quintiles (Q1 low, Q2-Q4 middle, Q5 high TSH concentration) were determined and group comparisons of age- and education-adjusted mean scores were performed for all cognitive subtests. Analysis sample 2 included 378 participants with MCI and 931 cognitively normal participants. MCI was diagnosed according to previously published MCI criteria. Multivariate logistic regression models were performed using TSH quintiles (Q2-Q4 as reference) to assess the association of low- and high-normal TSH concentration with MCI. Models were performed unadjusted and adjusted for sociodemographic and cardiovascular risk factors.
Results: Group comparisons showed significant differences only in the immediate recall of the verbal memory task in women. Only women showed a strong association of high-normal TSH concentration with MCI (unadjusted: odds ratio 2.09, 95% confidence interval 1.29-3.37, full adjusted: 1.86, 1.06-3.27). There was no association with low-normal TSH concentration in women and no association of either low- or high-normal TSH concentration with MCI in men.
Conclusions: These results suggest that women with high-normal TSH concentration might be at higher risk of cognitive decline. This needs to be confirmed in the longitudinal analysis.
Keywords: Aging; gender; mild cognitive impairment; population-based studies; thyroid function; thyroid-stimulating hormone.