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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Sep;43(3):606-13.

Sensitivity to lithium in treated Graves' disease: effects on serum T4, T3 and reverse T3.


Seven patients judged to be euthyroid following treatment of diffuse toxic goiter were studied to determine if they were susceptible to lithium induced hypothyroidism. Lithium carbonate was administered for 4-7 weeks in a dosage (900 mg/day) which maintained serum lithium levels between 0.5-1.0 mEq/l. Blood was obtained weekly for the determination of serum 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), 3,3',5'-TRIIODO-L-thyronine (reverse T3, rT3) and thyrotropin (TSH). Values observed during lithium therapy were compared to those obtained prior to, and approximately one week after discontinuing lithium. During the pretreatment preiod, mean (+/- SE) serum T3, T4, and rT3 concentrations were 130 +/- 21 ng/100 ml, 7.6 +/- 0.4 mug/100 ml and 48 +/- 8 ng/100 ml, respectively, and decreased during lithium administration with the lowest T3, T4 and reverse T3 concentrations of the lowest T3, T4 and reverse T3 concentrations of 92 +/- 8 ng/100 ml, 4.9 +/- 0.6mug/100 ml, and 33 +/- 6 ng/100, ml, respectively, being reached between the fourth and sixth weeks of study. Thereafter, and in spite of continued treatment with lithium, values for serum concentrations of T3, T4, and rT3 plateaued, or actually increased in 4, 6, and 5 subjects, respectively. Serum TSH concentrations remained 3.0 muU/ml or less throughout the study in 6 patients; 2 of these subjects had no TSH response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), even though they had been euthyroid for 3 and 10 months. These data suggest that patients euthyroid following treatment of diffuse toxic goiter display sensitivity to the antithyroid effects of lithium. Furthermore, these observations support the thesis that the inhibitory effects of lithium and iodine upon thyroid hormone synthesis or secretion may involve a similar mechanism of action since increased thyroidal iodine content may be a consequence of therapy with either agent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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