Aging Alters Phenotypic Traits of Thyroid Dysfunction in Male Mice With Divergent Effects on Complex Systems but Preserved Thyroid Hormone Action in Target Organs

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jul 12;74(8):1162-1169. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz040.


Clinical manifestation of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism vary with age, with an attenuated, oligosymptomatic presentation of thyroid dysfunction (TD) in older patients. We asked, whether in rodents TD phenotypes are influenced by age and whether this involves changes in systemic and/or organ thyroid hormone (TH) signaling. Chronic hyper- or hypothyroidism was induced in male mice at different life stages (5, 12, and 20 months). TH excess resulted in pronounced age-specific body weight changes (increase in youngest and decrease in old mice), neither explained by changes in food intake (similar increase at all ages), nor by thermogenic gene expression in brown adipose tissue (BAT) or TH serum concentrations. Relative increase in body temperature and activity were more pronounced in old compared to young hyperthyroid mice. An attenuated hypothyroid state was found in old mice for locomotor activity and in heart and BAT on functional (less bradycardia) and gene expression level (heart and BAT). In contrast, decrease in body weight was pronounced in old hypothyroid mice. Thus, age has divergent impact on features of TD in mice, whereby effects on highly complex systems, such as energy homeostasis are not proportional to serum TH state, in contrast to organ-specific responses in heart and BAT.

Keywords: Body weight; Brown adipose tissue; Heart; Hyperthyroidism; Hypothyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Hyperthyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood*


  • Thyroid Hormones