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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Dec;90(12):6403-9. Epub 2005 Sep 20.

Thyroid hormone concentrations, disease, physical function, and mortality in elderly men.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Room Bd230, Erasmus Medical Center, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands. a.vandenbeld@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Physiological changes in thyroid hormone concentrations might be related to changes in the overall physical function in the elderly.

OBJECTIVE:

We determined to what extent thyroid hormone concentrations are related to physical function and mortality in elderly men.

DESIGN:

A longitudinal population study (the Zoetermeer study) was conducted. Mortality was registered in the subsequent 4 yr.

PARTICIPANTS:

Four hundred three independently and ambulatory living men (aged 73-94 yr) participated.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The study examined the association between serum thyroid hormones and parameters of physical function as well as the association with mortality.

METHODS:

TSH, free T4 (FT4) total T4, T3, rT3, and T4-binding globulin were measured. Physical function was estimated by the number of problems in activities of daily living, a measure of physical performance score (PPS), leg extensor strength and grip strength, bone density, and body composition.

RESULTS:

Serum rT3 increased significantly with age and the presence of disease. Sixty-three men met the biochemical criteria for the low T3 syndrome (decreased serum T3 and increased serum rT3). This was associated with a lower PPS, independent of disease. Furthermore, higher serum FT4 (within the normal range of healthy adults) and rT3 (above the normal range of healthy adults) were related with a lower grip strength and PPS, independent of age and disease. Isolated low T3 was associated with a better PPS and a higher lean body mass. Low FT4 was related to a decreased risk of 4-yr mortality.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a population of independently living elderly men, higher FT4 and rT3 concentrations are associated with a lower physical function. High serum rT3 may result from a decreased peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormones due to the aging process itself and/or disease and may reflect a catabolic state. Low serum FT4 is associated with a better 4-yr survival; this may reflect an adaptive mechanism to prevent excessive catabolism.

PMID:
16174720
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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