The role of thyroid hormone in metabolism and metabolic syndrome

Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2020 May 13:11:2042018820917869. doi: 10.1177/2042018820917869. eCollection 2020.


Metabolic syndrome (MetS) and thyroid dysfunction are common in clinical practice. The objectives of this review are to discuss some proposed mechanisms by which thyroid dysfunctions may lead to MetS, to describe the bidirectional relationship between thyroid hormones (THs) and adiposity and finally, to resume a list of recent studies in humans that evaluated possible associations between thyroid hormone status and MetS or its clinical components. Not solely THs, but also its metabolites regulate metabolic rate, influencing adiposity. The mechanisms enrolled are related to its direct effect on adenosine triphosphate (ATP) utilization, uncoupling synthesis of ATP, mitochondrial biogenesis, and its inotropic and chronotropic effects. THs also act controlling core body temperature, appetite, and sympathetic activity. In a bidirectional way, thyroid function is affected by adiposity. Leptin is one of the hallmarks, but the pro-inflammatory cytokines and also insulin resistance impact thyroid function and perhaps its structure. MetS development and weight gain have been positively associated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in several studies. Adverse glucose metabolism may be related to hyperthyroidism, but also to reduction of thyroid function or higher serum TSH, as do abnormal serum triglyceride levels. Hypo- and hyperthyroidism have been related to higher blood pressure (BP), that may be consequence of genomic or nongenomic action of THs on the vasculature and in the heart. In summary, the interaction between THs and components of MetS is complex and not fully understood. More longitudinal studies controlling each of all confounding variables that interact with endpoints or exposure factors are still necessary.

Keywords: blood pressure; hyperthyroidism; hypothyroidism; insulin resistance; lipids; obesity; thyrotropin.

Publication types

  • Review