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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1996 Jun;93(6):470-6.

Long-term observation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis in alcohol-dependent patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, Free University of Berlin, Germany.


Thyroid hormone levels and thyrotrophin (TSH) were measured in 45 alcohol-dependent patients before detoxification and 8 days, 3 months and 6 months after detoxification, and compared to levels in healthy controls. Before detoxification, levels of thyroxine (T4) and thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) were significantly reduced in patients compared with healthy controls, while triiodothyronine (T3), reverse T3, and TSH levels did not differ from those in healthy controls. During the entire observation period, free T4 (fT4) and free T3 (fT3) levels were slightly elevated compared with those in healthy controls. T4 and TBG levels increased significantly during the first week of abstinence. Severity of withdrawal symptoms was negatively correlated with the total T4 levels after 8 days of abstinence. Three months after detoxification, relapsers displayed significantly lower T4 and TBG levels compared with abstinent patients. The increase in T3 levels was most pronounced between 8 days and 3 months of abstinence in both relapsing and abstinent patients. Six months after detoxification, only abstinent patients could be assessed, and they displayed increased TBG and T3 levels compared to healthy controls. Our findings suggest a different time-course for T3 and T4 levels after detoxification in alcohol-dependent patients, and indicate that T4 levels after detoxification interact with withdrawal symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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