The aim of the study was to investigate the changes in the thyroid axis setpoint after long-term suppressive levothyroxine therapy for differentiated thyroid carcinoma and the resulting changes in levothyroxine requirement. Ninety-nine differentiated thyroid cancer patients were reviewed. All patients had at least one known TSH-level≥0.01 mU/l (lower detection limit) and <1.0 mU/l within 2 years of initial treatment (time 1) and had at least one TSH-value≥0.01 mU/l and <1.0 mU/l after continuous LT4 therapy for a minimum of 5 years (time 2). At time 2 the mean LT4 dosage/kg body weight, TSH, FT3, and FT4 levels were significantly lower than at time 1, while body weight was higher. At time 2, the FT3/FT4 ratio rate had dropped significantly (p<0.001). At time 1, patients would require 2.96 μg/kg body weight to reach total TSH suppression. The dose of levothyroxine/kg required for suppression can be lowered by about 0.05 μg/kg body weight for each year of suppressive therapy. After a median of 12.7 years of continuous suppressive levothyroxine therapy, patients would require 2.25 μg/kg body weight (-23.5%) to reach total TSH-suppression. At least part of this reduction was independent of aging. As a result of changes in thyroid hormone metabolism and thyroid axis setpoint, long-term TSH-suppressive therapy contributes to a reduction in the dosage of levothyroxine per kilogram body weight required for full TSH suppression over time.

levothyroxine, pituitary, thyroid cancer, TSH suppression,
Hormone and Metabolic Research
Department of Internal Medicine

Verburg, F.A, Mäder, U, Grelle, I, Visser, T.J, Peeters, R.P, Smit, J.W.A, & Reiners, C. (2014). The Thyroid Axis 'Setpoints' are Significantly Altered After Long-Term Suppressive LT4 Therapy. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 46(11), 794–799. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1375678