Effect of Experimental Thyrotoxicosis on Brain Gray Matter: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study

Eur Thyroid J. 2015 Sep;4(Suppl 1):113-8. doi: 10.1159/000398793. Epub 2015 May 30.


Background: Hyper-as well hypothyroidism have an effect on behavior and brain function. Moreover, during development thyroid hormones influence brain structure.

Objectives: This study aimed to demonstrate an effect of experimentally induced hyperthyroidism on brain gray matter in healthy adult humans.

Methods: High-resolution 3D T1-weighted images were acquired in 29 healthy young subjects prior to as well as after receiving 250 µg of T4 per day for 8 weeks. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed using Statistical Parametric Mapping 8 (SPM8).

Results: Laboratory testing confirmed the induction of hyperthyroidism. In the hyperthyroid condition, gray matter volumes were increased in the right posterior cerebellum (lobule VI) and decreased in the bilateral visual cortex and anterior cerebellum (lobules I-IV) compared to the euthyroid condition.

Conclusions: Our study provides evidence that short periods of hyperthyroidism induce distinct alterations in brain structures of cerebellar regions that have been associated with sensorimotor functions as well as working memory in the literature.

Keywords: DARTEL; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Hyperthyroidism; Voxel-based morphometry; Working memory; n-back working memory task.