Effects and plasma levels of propranolol and metoprolol in hyperthyroid patients

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1980 Oct;18(4):315-20. doi: 10.1007/BF00561388.


The effects and plasma concentrations of different doses of propranolol and metoprolol were studied in 34 hyperthyroid patients. The initial daily doses were propranolol 160 mg or metoprolol 200 mg. If the resting heart rate remained above 75 beats per min after treatment for 4-7 days, the dose was increased and the patient re-examined after a further 4-7 days. Propranolol (n = 17) caused a reduced heart rate, a decrease in serum 3,3',5-triiodothyronine (T3) and an increase in serum 3,3',5'-triiodothyronine (reverse T3, rT3). In 10 patients, there was no change in T3 or rT3 until the daily dose of propranolol had been increased to 240 or 320 mg. The plasma level of propranolol was significantly correlated with the decrease in T3 and the increase in rT3. Metoprolol (n = 17) caused a reduction in heart rate similar to that following propranolol. However, serum T3 was only slightly reduced even after an increase in dose to 300 or 400 mg, and serum rT3 was not altered. Metoprolol concentrations were not significantly correlated with the fall in T3. It appears that the influence of beta-blockers on T4 conversion is of little importance for the clinical improvement in hyperthyroid patients, and rather it is a consequence of beta 1-adrenergic blockade interfering with the effect of T3. In addition, the findings support the assumption that therapeutic failure with beta-blockers in hyperthyroidism may be due to suboptimal treatment, and that individualized dosage is necessary.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Hyperthyroidism / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / blood
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Propanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Propranolol / blood
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Propanolamines
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Propranolol
  • Metoprolol