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Horm Metab Res. 2002 Feb;34(2):67-71.

Pituitary-thyroid axis, thyroid volume and leptin in healthy adults.

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Endocrinology and Radiology Services, Ciudad Sanitaria y Universitaria de Bellvitge, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Hormonal Laboratory, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.



Patients with thyroid diseases usually have disturbances relating to body weight and thermogenesis. On the other hand, leptin is involved in the regulation of body weight, food intake and thermogenesis. Some studies have investigated the relationship between leptin and dysthyroid states, but the complex interactions between leptin and pituitary-thyroid axis have led to controversial results.


The aims of this cross-sectional study were to investigate the relationship among basal TSH, ultrasonographic thyroid volume and leptin in a group of 268 healthy adults randomly selected from our city, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, an area free of iodine deficiency. In this euthyroid group, we determined basal TSH, thyroid autoantibodies, leptin concentrations, and thyroid volume by ultrasonography, body anthropometry, and body composition.


All subjects were free of goitre and were negative for anti-thyroid antibodies. Basal TSH concentrations were 1.49 +/- 0.8 mU/l in males and 1.67 +/- 0.83 mU/l in females (p = 0.6). Anti-thyroid antibodies were negative in all cases; leptin concentrations were 6.1 +/- 4 ng/ml in males and 16.8 +/- 11.7 ng/ml in females (p = 0.0001). Thyroid volume was 9.8 +/- 4.6 ml in males and 6.5 +/- 2 ml in females (p = 0.001). There were significant correlations among leptin concentrations and anthropometric and body composition variables in both sexes, without correlation with TSH concentrations. There was no significant correlation between anthropometric and body composition variables and thyroid volume in males but there was a correlation in females. In females, there was a positive correlation between leptin and thyroid volume (r = 0.181, p = 0.038). In males, there was a negative correlation between TSH concentrations and thyroid volume (r = - 0.271, p = 0.002).


We did not find any correlation between leptin levels and pituitary-thyroid axis in this control population. The correlation between leptin and thyroid volume in females is probably a consequence that leptin and thyroid volume are regulated in parallel by variables relating to anthropometry and body composition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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