Study of serum 3,5, 3′-triiodothyronine sulfate concentration in patients with systemic non-thyroidal illness

Ferruccio Santini, Luca Chiovato, Luigi Bartalena, Paola Lapi, Roberto Palla, Vincenzo Panichi, Fernanda Velluzzi, Lucia Grasso, Inder J. Chopra, Enio Martino, Aldo Pinchera

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Sulfation is an important pathway of triiodothyronine (T3) metabolism. Increased serum T3 sulfate (T3S) values have been observed during fetal life and in pathological conditions such as hyperthyroidism and selenium deficiency. Similar variations have also been reported in a small number of patients with systemic non-thyroidal illness, but the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. In this study, serum T3S concentrations have been measured by a specific radioimmunoassay in 28 patients with end-stage neoplastic disease (ESND) and in 44 patients with chronic renal failure (CRF); 41 normal subjects served as controls. Both ESND and CRF patients had lower serum total T4 (TT4) and total T3 (TT3) than normal controls, while serum reverse T3 (rT3) was increased significantly in ESND (0.7 ± 0.5 nmol/l: p <0 001 vs. controls) but not in CRF (0.3 ± 0.1 nmol/l). The TT3/rT3 ratio, an index of type I iodothyronine monodeiodinase (type I MD) activity, was reduced significantly in both groups of patients. Serum T4-binding globulin (TBG) was decreased in CRF but not in ESND patients. Serum T3S was significantly higher both in ESND (71 ± 32 pmol/1) and CRF (100 ± 24 pmol/l) than in controls (50 ± 16 pmol/l, p <0.001 ). Serum T3S values showed a positive correlation with rT3 values and a negative correlation with both TT3 and FT3 values in ESND. but not in CRF. In the latter group a positive correlation was observed between T3S and TBG values. The T3S/FT3 ratio was higher both in CRF (18 ± 5) and in ESND (23 ± 18) as compared to controls (10 ± 4). Serum inorganic sulfate was increased and correlated positively with T3S values in CRF patients, in conclusion, the results of this study in a large series of patients confirm that patients with systemic non-thyroidal illness have increased serum T3S levels. The mechanisms responsible for these changes appear to be different in ESND and CRF patients. In ESND the increase in serum T3S levels is mainly related to reduced degradation of the hormone by type I MD. whereas in CRF it might be driven by the enhanced sulfate ion concentration, and could be partially dependent on the impaired renal excretion of T3S. Because T3S can be reconverted to T3, it is possible that increased T3S concentrations contribute to maintenance of the euthyroid state in systemic non-thyroidal disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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