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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1990 Dec;71(6):1567-72.

Tumor necrosis factor: a putative mediator of the sick euthyroid syndrome in man.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) is believed to be an important mediator in many diseases that are associated with the sick euthyroid syndrome. To investigate the effect of TNF on thyroid hormone metabolism, we performed a controlled study in six healthy postabsorptive males, in whom plasma thyroid hormones and TSH were sequentially measured after iv bolus injections of recombinant human TNF (50 micrograms/m2) and isotonic saline. During the 10.5-h study TNF produced the characteristic changes in circulating thyroid hormones and TSH observed in the sick euthyroid syndrome. Compared with the control experiment, TNF induced significant decreases in T3 (-36 +/- 2%; saline, -20 +/- 3%; P less than 0.05) and TSH levels (-68 +/- 3%; saline, -44 +/- 8%; P less than 0.05) and a significant increase in rT3 values (+48 +/- 11%; saline, -12 +/- 7%; P less than 0.05). T4 and free T4 index were not affected by TNF. Free T4 showed a mean transient increase of 18% in five subjects (nonsignificant), which occurred synchronically with a transient 3.5-fold rise in circulating FFA levels. Our results suggest that TNF is involved, either directly or indirectly, in the pathogenesis of the sick euthyroid syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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