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J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(3):797-807. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150561.

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone and Mild Cognitive Impairment: Results of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study.

Author information

Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, University Hospital of Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
Clinic of Cardiology, West German Heart Centre, University Hospital of Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
Institute for Medical Sociology, Centre for Healthy and Society, University of Düsseldorf, Germany.
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Division of Laboratory Research, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital of Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.



Although some studies reported on the association of serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration and cognition, only one population-based study investigated the association of TSH concentration and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).


To investigate the gender-specific association of low- and high-normal TSH concentrations with MCI in euthyroid participants.


Analysis sample 1 included 2,563 euthyroid participants (aged 50-80 years) from the second examination of the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall study. Gender-specific TSH quintiles (Q1 low, Q2-Q4 middle, Q5 high TSH concentration) were determined and group comparisons of age- and education-adjusted mean scores were performed for all cognitive subtests. Analysis sample 2 included 378 participants with MCI and 931 cognitively normal participants. MCI was diagnosed according to previously published MCI criteria. Multivariate logistic regression models were performed using TSH quintiles (Q2-Q4 as reference) to assess the association of low- and high-normal TSH concentration with MCI. Models were performed unadjusted and adjusted for sociodemographic and cardiovascular risk factors.


Group comparisons showed significant differences only in the immediate recall of the verbal memory task in women. Only women showed a strong association of high-normal TSH concentration with MCI (unadjusted: odds ratio 2.09, 95% confidence interval 1.29-3.37, full adjusted: 1.86, 1.06-3.27). There was no association with low-normal TSH concentration in women and no association of either low- or high-normal TSH concentration with MCI in men.


These results suggest that women with high-normal TSH concentration might be at higher risk of cognitive decline. This needs to be confirmed in the longitudinal analysis.


Aging; gender; mild cognitive impairment; population-based studies; thyroid function; thyroid-stimulating hormone

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