Unfavorable Triglyceride-rich Particle Profile in Subclinical Thyroid Disease: A Cross-sectional Analysis of ELSA-Brasil

Endocrinology. 2021 Feb 1;162(2):bqaa205. doi: 10.1210/endocr/bqaa205.


Subclinical thyroid disorders have been associated with atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular risk. As triglyceride-rich lipoprotein particles (TRLPs) have recently emerged as a casual factor for atherogenesis, the aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between subclinical hypo- and hyperthyroidism and TRLP subfractions. We selected 5066 participants from the ELSA-Brasil cohort with available data of thyroid function and lipid profile measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Individuals were divided into 3 groups by baseline thyroid function (subclinical hypothyroidism, euthyroidism, and subclinical hyperthyroidism). Triglyceride-rich lipoprotein particle subfractions were analyzed through NMR spectroscopy. To examine the association between TRLP subfractions and thyroid function, we conducted univariate and multivariate linear regression models adjusted for demographic characteristics, body mass index, diabetes, smoking status, and alcohol use. Of 3304 individuals, 54% were women, with a mean age of 50.6 ± 8.7 years, 51% white, and 53% with at least a college education. Of these individuals, 92% were euthyroid, whereas 6.8% had subclinical hypothyroidism and 1.2% had subclinical hyperthyroidism. The univariate linear regression showed that very small TRLPs (P = 0.026) and very large TRLPs (P = 0.008) were statistically increased in subclinical hypothyroidism when compared with euthyroidism. In subclinical hyperthyroidism, there was a reduction in total TRLPs (P = 0.003), seemingly driven by reduced very small TRLPs (P = 0.067). The findings were confirmed when adjusted for demographic characteristics, as well as comorbidities. This study suggests that subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with very small and very large TRLPs, which are related to an unfavorable atherogenic profile. Subclinical hyperthyroidism is associated to lower very small TRLPs.

Keywords: lipids; subclinical hyperthyroidism; subclinical hypothyroidism; thyroid dysfunction; triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Diseases / blood*
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.gqnk98skp