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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 May;90(5):2666-74. Epub 2005 Feb 10.

Combined therapy with levothyroxine and liothyronine in two ratios, compared with levothyroxine monotherapy in primary hypothyroidism: a double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial.

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, F5-161, P.O. Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Controversy remains about the value of combined treatment with levothyroxine (LT4) and liothyronine (LT3), compared with LT4 alone in primary hypothyroidism. We compared combined treatment with LT4 and LT3 in a ratio of 5:1 or 10:1 with LT4 monotherapy. We conducted a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in 141 patients (18-70 yr old) with primary autoimmune hypothyroidism, recruited via general practitioners. Inclusion criteria included: LT4 treatment for 6 months or more, a stable dose for 6 wk or more, and serum TSH levels between 0.11 and 4.0 microU/ml (mU/liter). Randomization groups were: 1) continuation of LT4 (n = 48); 2) LT4/LT3, ratio 10:1 (n = 46); and 3) LT4/LT3, ratio 5:1 (n = 47). Subjective preference of study medication after 15 wk, compared with usual LT4, was the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcomes included scores on questionnaires on mood, fatigue, psychological symptoms, and a substantial set of neurocognitive tests. Study medication was preferred to usual treatment by 29.2, 41.3, and 52.2% in the LT4, 10:1 ratio, and 5:1 ratio groups, respectively (chi2 test for trend, P = 0.024). This linear trend was not substantiated by results on any of the secondary outcome measures: scores on questionnaires and neurocognitive tests consistently ameliorated, but the amelioration was not different among the treatment groups. Median end point serum TSH was 0.64 microU/ml (mU/liter), 0.35 microU/ml (mU/liter), and 0.07 microU/ml (mU/liter), respectively [ANOVA on ln(TSH) for linear trend, P < 0.01]. Mean body weight change was +0.1, -0.5, and -1.7 kg, respectively (ANOVA for trend, P = 0.01). Decrease in weight, but not decrease in serum TSH was correlated with increased satisfaction with study medication. Of the patients who preferred combined LT4/LT3 therapy, 44% had serum TSH less than 0.11 microU/ml (mU/liter). Patients preferred combined LT4/LT3 therapy to usual LT4 therapy, but changes in mood, fatigue, well-being, and neurocognitive functions could not satisfactorily explain why the primary outcome was in favor of LT4/LT3 combination therapy. Decrease in body weight was associated with satisfaction with study medication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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