Thyroid hormone control of thermogenesis and energy balance

Thyroid. 1995 Dec;5(6):481-92. doi: 10.1089/thy.1995.5.481.


The mechanisms whereby thyroid hormone increases heat production have been analyzed with emphasis in more recent developments. Thyroid hormone increases obligatory thermogenesis as a result of the stimulation of numerous metabolic pathways involved in development, remodeling, and delivery of energy to the tissues. In addition, thyroid hormone may specifically stimulate some thermogenic mechanisms selected during evolution of homeotherms (e.g., Na/K-ATPase, Ca2+ cycling in muscle). Thyroid hormone also plays an essential role in facultative thermogenesis interacting with the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) at various levels. Peripherally, thyroid hormone potentiates the effects of the SNS at the level of the adrenergic receptor and adenylyl cyclase complex as well as distal from this point. Synergistic interactions between T3 and cAMP on the regulation of gene expression have been described. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) T4-5'-deiodinase plays a central role in controlling heat production. When this enzyme is stimulated by norepinephrine in the euthyroid and hypothyroid condition, it provides high concentrations of T3 to BAT; inhibition by T4 in hyperthyroidism may limit brown fat thermogenic responses. Also, thyrotoxicosis uniquely reduces the expression of beta 3-adrenergic receptors in brown adipose tissue, and the increased obligatory thermogenesis of this condition, via afferent neural pathways, may reduce the hypothalamic stimulation of brown fat, providing additional mechanisms to limit brown adipose tissue thermogenesis in hyperthyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Hormones / physiology*


  • Thyroid Hormones