Serum Thyrotropin Concentrations Are Not Associated with the Ankle-Brachial Index: Results from Three Population-Based Studies

Eur Thyroid J. 2015 Sep;4(Suppl 1):101-7. doi: 10.1159/000381309. Epub 2015 May 27.


Background: There is only limited data on the potential association between thyroid dysfunction and peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the potential association of thyroid function, as defined by serum concentrations of the clinically used primary thyroid function marker thyrotropin [i.e. thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)] and 3,5-diiodothyronine (3,5-T2), with the ankle-brachial index (ABI) as a marker of PAD.

Methods: We used data from 5,818 individuals from three cross-sectional population-based studies conducted in Northeast (SHIP-2 and SHIP-TREND) and Central Germany (CARLA). Measurement of serum TSH concentrations was conducted in one central laboratory for all three studies. In a randomly selected subpopulation of 750 individuals of SHIP-TREND, serum 3,5-T2 concentrations were measured with a recently developed immunoassay. ABI was measured either by a hand-held Doppler ultrasound using the Huntleigh Dopplex D900 or palpatorily by the OMRON HEM-705CP device.

Results: Serum TSH concentrations were not significantly associated with ABI values in any of the three studies. Likewise, groups of individuals with a TSH <0.3 mIU/l or with a TSH ≥3.0 mIU/l had no significantly different ABI values in comparison with individuals with a TSH in the reference range. Analyses regarding TSH within the reference range or serum 3,5-T2 concentrations did not reveal consistent significant associations with the ABI. No sex-specific associations were detected.

Conclusions: The results of our study do not substantiate evidence for an association between thyroid function and PAD, but further studies are needed to investigate the associations of overt forms of thyroid dysfunction with PAD.

Keywords: Ankle-brachial index; Epidemiology; Peripheral arterial disease; Population-based study; Thyroid; Thyrotropin.