Objective: Recently it was found that thyrotropin (TSH) receptors are present both in osteoclast and osteoblast and that TSH can modulate bone remodeling independent of thyroid hormones. The aim of this study was, firstly, to evaluate the effects of acute administration of TSH on bone remodeling markers both in men and in women and, secondly, to evaluate if these effects are mediated by variations in serum osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator of nuclear factor-KB ligand (RANKL). Design: We studied 30 thyroidectomized patients (10 premenopausal and 10 postmenopausal women, 10 men) affected by thyroid carcinoma on l-thyroxine therapy. Eighty age- and sex-matched subjects were used as controls. A blood sample was drawn from each patient at baseline and 3 and 5 days after recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) administration, in preparation for 131I whole body scan, to assess serum bone markers and serum OPG and RANKL levels. Main outcome: At baseline, postmenopausal women and men had significantly higher values of bone turnover markers and serum OPG compared to control subjects. In all thyroidectomized patients serum RANKL was lower than in controls. After rhTSH administration, serum N-terminal propeptide of type-I procollagen (PINP), a marker of bone formation, increased significantly in postmenopausal women, while serum RANKL significantly increased after 3 days in postmenopausal patients and men returning to baseline values at day 5. Serum OPG levels did not change significantly. Conclusions: The low serum TSH observed in thyroidectomized patients on l-thyroxine therapy is associated with an increase of bone turnover in postmenopausal women and men that is associated with an increase of OPG and a decrease of serum RANKL levels. The acute TSH administration results in an increase of PINP, an index of osteoblastic activity, associated with an increase of serum RANKL. The lack of this response in premenopausal women suggests an influence of estrogen status on bone reactivity to TSH.
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