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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;94(8):2922-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-2235. Epub 2009 May 12.

Brain glucose metabolism in hypothyroidism: a positron emission tomography study before and after thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, Dresden, Germany.



Hypothyroidism is frequently associated with subtle behavioral and psychiatric symptoms. The consequences of inadequate thyroid hormone availability to brain metabolism are poorly understood.


This study assessed the relationships between neuropsychiatric symptoms and changes in relative regional cerebral glucose metabolism in hypothyroid patients undergoing thyroid hormone replacement therapy. DESIGN, SETTING, AND OUTCOME MEASURE: Relative regional cerebral glucose metabolism was compared in 13 previously untreated hypothyroid patients and 10 healthy control participants. Effects of thyroid hormone replacement therapy (levothyroxine, 3 months) were assessed using neuropsychiatric measures and positron emission tomography with [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose.


Before treatment, hypothyroid patients exhibited lower regional activity than control subjects in the bilateral amygdala, hippocampus, and perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), left subgenual ACC, and right posterior cingulate cortex. Severity of depressive symptoms covaried negatively with pretreatment activity in the bilateral middle frontal gyrus and right subgenual and dorsal ACC. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy abolished pretreatment group differences in regional activity, robustly increased activity in the ventral ACC, and significantly reduced both clinician-rated and self-rated behavioral and psychiatric symptoms. Increased activity within the ventral ACC was associated with reduced somatic complaints, whereas increased activity within the dorsal ACC was associated with reduced depressive symptoms.


Reduction of the behavioral complaints during thyroid hormone therapy is associated with a restoration of metabolic activity in brain areas that are integral to the regulation of affect and cognition. The findings suggest that thyroid hormone modulates regional glucose metabolism and psychiatric symptoms in the mature brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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