[Contribution of amino acid deficiency to primary hypothyroidism associated with protein-calorie malnutrition]

Nihon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi. 1985 Nov 20;61(11):1270-81. doi: 10.1507/endocrine1927.61.11_1270.
[Article in Japanese]


A 68-year-old male patient without any previous thyroidal disease developed three times of transient primary hypothyroidism associated with protein-calorie malnutrition (PCM). Because of his diabetes mellitus, alcoholic hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis and blind loop syndrome, his nutritional balance was easily disturbed leading to PCM. Although he recurrently developed primary hypothyroidism associated with PCM, this condition was completely restored by protein-calorie repletion. The possibility of dietary iodine deficiency was negated by the observation that his daily urinary iodine secretion was more than 4 mg/day. Plasma amino acid analysis revealed severe depletion of phenylalanine, tyrosine and other essential amino acids and raised the possibility that this hypothyroidism was caused by amino acid deficiency. In order to clarify the mechanisms of this primary hypothyroidism, we have investigated the change of thyroid functions during protein-calorie repletion by total parenteral nutrition (TPN). We then removed iodine from the nutrients for TPN to ascertain that iodine deficiency was not the cause of the primary hypothyroidism in the present case. In spite of the removal of iodine, serum T4 and T3 suddenly increased from 1.1 micrograms/dl and less than 25 ng/dl to 3.5 micrograms/dl and 59 ng/dl, respectively, in a few days after the beginning of TPN. They continued to increase thereafter and reached 6.3 micrograms/dl and 115 ng/dl in 6 weeks. Serum free T4 also showed a sudden increase from 0.56 ng/dl to 1.7 ng/dl after TPN and remained above 1.3 ng/dl thereafter. Serum reverse T3 showed a rapid increase after TPN, but, 4 weeks later, returned to the previous level before TPN. Serum TSH decreased from 120 microU/ml to 17 microU/ml in a few days after TPN and reached a level within normal range in 4 weeks. Serum TBG gradually increased from 10.7 micrograms/ml to 29.2 micrograms/ml in 6 weeks. These results show that the T4 synthesis was extremely impaired by PCM in spite of the strong stimulation by TSH and that this suppression of T4 synthesis by PCM led the patient recurrently to the primary hypothyroidism. We have next investigated the possibility whether the deficiency of phenylalanine and tyrosine could cause a suppression of T4 synthesis because tyrosine is an important substrate of T4. For this purpose we removed phenylalanine and tyrosine from TPN and added iodine to prevent iodine deficiency due to prolonged iodine-depleted nutrition. Reduction of phenylalanine and tyrosine resulted in a marked decrease in serum T4, T3 and TBG in 7 weeks, but gave no change to free T4. Serum TSH remained within normal range.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology*
  • Hypothyroidism / therapy
  • Male
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / complications*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / therapy
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology


  • Amino Acids