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Korean J Intern Med. 2013 Mar;28(2):180-6. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2013.28.2.180. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Elevated thyroid stimulating hormone levels are associated with metabolic syndrome in euthyroid young women.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



The existence of an association between thyrotropin (thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH) levels and metabolic derangement in euthyroid subjects is controversial. We examined the association between high normal TSH levels and metabolic syndrome in healthy young women.


The study recruited 2,760 young female volunteers (age, 18 to 39 years) with TSH levels in the normal range (0.3 to 4.5 mU/L). We defined metabolic syndrome using the 2007 International Diabetes Federation criteria. Using a TSH level of 2.5 mU/L as an upper reference limit, as recommended by the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, we divided the subjects into high-(n = 453) and low-TSH groups (n = 2,307).


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was significantly higher in the high-TSH group than in the low-TSH group (7.5% vs. 4.8%, p = 0.016). Central obesity (22.3% vs. 17.3%, p = 0.012) and hypertriglyceridemia (8.0% vs. 4.2%, p = 0.0007) were significantly more frequent in the high-TSH group than in the low-TSH group. Waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and triglycerides were significantly associated with the TSH level after adjusting for age and body mass index (BMI). Subjects in the high-TSH group had a 2-fold greater risk of metabolic syndrome than subjects in the low-TSH group after adjusting for age and BMI (odds ratio, 1.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 3.2).


Healthy young women with TSH levels > 2.5 mU/L should be assessed for the presence of metabolic syndrome, even if their TSH levels are in the normal range.


Euthyroid; Metabolic syndrome; Thyrotropin; Young women

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