Objective: We examined zinc (Zn) status in relation to thyroid function in disabled persons, because the association between Zn deficiency and thyroid function remains controversial.
Methods: After measuring serum free 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3) and free thyroxine (T4) in 134 persons, TSH-releasing hormone (TRH) injection test and estimation of Zn status were conducted in persons with low free T3.
Results: Thirteen had low levels of serum free T3 and normal T4. Patients with elevated levels of serum 3,3',5'-triiodothyronine (rT3) showed an enhanced reaction of serum thyrotropin (TSH) after TRH injection. Nine of 13 patients had mild to moderate Zn deficiency evaluated by body Zn clearance and increased urinary Zn excretion. After oral supplementation of Zn sulphate (4-10 mg/kg body weight) for 12 months, levels of serum free T3 and T3 normalized, serum rT3 decreased, and the TRH-induced TSH reaction normalized. Serum selenium concentration (Type 1 T4 deionidase contains selenium in the rat) was unchanged by Zn supplementation.
Conclusion: Zn may play a role in thyroid hormone metabolism in low T3 patients and may in part contribute to conversion of T4 to T3 in humans.