Only the combined treatment with thyroxine and triiodothyronine ensures euthyroidism in all tissues of the thyroidectomized rat

Endocrinology. 1996 Jun;137(6):2490-502. doi: 10.1210/endo.137.6.8641203.


We have recently shown that it is not possible to restore euthyroidism completely in all tissues of thyroidectomized rats infused with T4 alone. The present study was undertaken to determine whether this is achieved when T3 is added to the continuous sc infusion of T4. Thyroidectomized rats were infused with placebo or T4 (0.80 and 0.90 microgram/100 g, alone or in combination with T3 (0.10, 0.15, or 0.20 microgram/100 g Placebo-infused intact rats served as euthyroid controls. Plasma and 12 tissues were obtained after 12 days of infusion. Plasma TSH and plasma and tissue T4 and T3 were determined by RIA. Iodothyronine deiodinase activities were assayed using cerebral cortex, pituitary, brown adipose tissue, liver, and lung. Circulating and tissue T4 levels were normal in all the groups infused with thyroid hormones. On the contrary, T3 in plasma and most tissues and plasma TSH only reached normal levels when T3 was added to the T4 infusion. The combination of 0.9 microgram T4 and 0.15 microgram T3/100 g resulted in normal T4 and T3 concentrations in plasma and all tissues as well as normal circulating TSH and normal or near-normal 5'-deiodinase activities. Combined replacement therapy with T4 and T3 (in proportions similar to those secreted by the normal rat thyroid) completely restored euthyroidism in thyroidectomized rats at much lower doses of T4 than those needed to normalize T3 in most tissues when T4 alone was used. If pertinent to man, these results might well justify a change in the current therapy for hypothyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Iodide Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Specificity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / administration & dosage*
  • Thyroxine / metabolism
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use
  • Triiodothyronine / administration & dosage*
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism
  • Triiodothyronine / therapeutic use


  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Iodide Peroxidase
  • Thyroxine