Effects of suppressive doses of levothyroxine treatment on sex-hormone-binding globulin and bone metabolism

Thyroid. 1995 Feb;5(1):19-23. doi: 10.1089/thy.1995.5.19.


The adverse effects of suppressive thyroxine treatment have previously been investigated and conflicting results have been published. This study aimed at evaluating the effects of subclinical hyperthyroidism on the liver and bones. We investigated the action of thyroxine on the liver by measuring sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels and on bone turnover by evaluating osteocalcin (BGP) in both pre- and postmenopausal women. We compared the levels of both proteins to those of untreated subjects matched for age, menopausal status, and weight. Bone mineral density (BMD) was evaluated by biphotonic absorptiometry only in postmenopausal women with estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and compared to two postmenopausal estrogen-treated controls. Forty-five women with multinodular goiter (38) or postsurgical thyroid carcinoma (7) were studied. They had received LT4 for 3 to 5 years (150 +/- 34 micrograms/day for nontoxic multinodular goiter, 184 +/- 46 micrograms/day for thyroid carcinoma). All patients had normal free T3 concentrations. No significant difference was found in SHBG values between patients and controls whatever the menopausal status and the BMI; a significant increase in BGP was noted in premenopausal women (9.6 +/- 2.2 vs 6.7 +/- 2.3 ng/ml; p < 0.0006). No significant BGP and BMD variations were observed in treated postmenopausal women. In summary, the study of carefully matched patients and controls revealed that thyroxine treatment has no effect on SHBG levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Female
  • Goiter / drug therapy
  • Goiter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Premenopause / blood
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroxine / adverse effects*
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use


  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Osteocalcin
  • Thyroxine