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Metab Brain Dis. 2012 Jun;27(2):101-11. doi: 10.1007/s11011-012-9291-0. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Thyroid hormone's role in regulating brain glucose metabolism and potentially modulating hippocampal cognitive processes.

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  • 1Office of Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Research, Excelsior College, Albany, NY 12203, USA.


Cognitive performance is dependent on adequate glucose supply to the brain. Insulin, which regulates systemic glucose metabolism, has been recently shown both to regulate hippocampal metabolism and to be a mandatory component of hippocampally-mediated cognitive performance. Thyroid hormones (TH) regulate systemic glucose metabolism and may also be involved in regulation of brain glucose metabolism. Here we review potential mechanisms for such regulation. Importantly, TH imbalance is often encountered in combination with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, and may cause additional metabolic dysregulation and hence worsening of disease states. TH's potential as a regulator of brain glucose metabolism is heightened by interactions with insulin signaling, but there have been relatively few studies on this topic or on the actions of TH in a mature brain. This review discusses evidence for mechanistic links between TH, insulin, cognitive function, and brain glucose metabolism, and reaches the conclusion that TH may modulate memory processes, likely at least in part by modulation of central insulin signaling and glucose metabolism.

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