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      Nonthyroidal Illness Syndrome Across the Ages

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          Abstract

          In conditions of acute illness, patients present with reduced plasma T3 concentrations without a concomitant rise in TSH. In contrast, plasma concentrations of the inactive hormone rT3 increase, whereas plasma concentrations of T4 remain low-normal. This constellation of changes, referred to as nonthyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS), is present across all ages, from preterm neonates and over-term critically ill infants and children to critically ill adults. Although the severity of illness strongly correlates with the severity of the NTIS phenotype, the causality of this association remains debated, and pathophysiological mechanisms remain incompletely understood. In the acute phase of illness, NTIS appears to be caused predominantly by an increased peripheral inactivation of thyroid hormones, in which reduced nutritional intake plays a role. Current evidence suggests that these acute peripheral changes are part of a beneficial adaptation of the body to reduce expenditure of energy and to activate the innate immune response, which is important for survival. In contrast, in more severely ill and prolonged critically ill patients, an additional central suppression of the thyroid hormone axis alters and further aggravates the NTIS phenotype. Recent studies suggest that this central suppression may not be adaptive. Whether treatment of this central component of NTIS in prolonged critically ill patients, with the use of hypothalamic releasing factors, improves outcome remains to be investigated in large randomized control trials.

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          Most cited references 86

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          Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism.

          Thyroid hormone (TH) is required for normal development as well as regulating metabolism in the adult. The thyroid hormone receptor (TR) isoforms, α and β, are differentially expressed in tissues and have distinct roles in TH signaling. Local activation of thyroxine (T4), to the active form, triiodothyronine (T3), by 5'-deiodinase type 2 (D2) is a key mechanism of TH regulation of metabolism. D2 is expressed in the hypothalamus, white fat, brown adipose tissue (BAT), and skeletal muscle and is required for adaptive thermogenesis. The thyroid gland is regulated by thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In addition to TRH/TSH regulation by TH feedback, there is central modulation by nutritional signals, such as leptin, as well as peptides regulating appetite. The nutrient status of the cell provides feedback on TH signaling pathways through epigentic modification of histones. Integration of TH signaling with the adrenergic nervous system occurs peripherally, in liver, white fat, and BAT, but also centrally, in the hypothalamus. TR regulates cholesterol and carbohydrate metabolism through direct actions on gene expression as well as cross-talk with other nuclear receptors, including peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), liver X receptor (LXR), and bile acid signaling pathways. TH modulates hepatic insulin sensitivity, especially important for the suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis. The role of TH in regulating metabolic pathways has led to several new therapeutic targets for metabolic disorders. Understanding the mechanisms and interactions of the various TH signaling pathways in metabolism will improve our likelihood of identifying effective and selective targets.
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            Thyroid function in critically ill patients.

            Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) typically present with decreased concentrations of plasma tri-iodothyronine, low thyroxine, and normal range or slightly decreased concentration of thyroid-stimulating hormone. This ensemble of changes is collectively known as non-thyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS). The extent of NTIS is associated with prognosis, but no proof exists for causality of this association. Initially, NTIS is a consequence of the acute phase response to systemic illness and macronutrient restriction, which might be beneficial. Pathogenesis of NTIS in long-term critical illness is more complex and includes suppression of hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone, accounting for persistently reduced secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone despite low plasma thyroid hormone. In some cases distinguishing between NTIS and severe hypothyroidism, which is a rare primary cause for admission to the ICU, can be difficult. Infusion of hypothalamic-releasing factors can reactivate the thyroid axis in patients with NTIS, inducing an anabolic response. Whether this approach has a clinical benefit in terms of outcome is unknown. In this Series paper, we discuss diagnostic aspects, pathogenesis, and implications of NTIS as well as its distinction from severe, primary thyroid disorders in patients in the ICU.
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              Reduced activation and increased inactivation of thyroid hormone in tissues of critically ill patients.

              Critical illness is often associated with reduced TSH and thyroid hormone secretion as well as marked changes in peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism, resulting in low serum T(3) and high rT(3) levels. To study the mechanism(s) of the latter changes, we determined serum thyroid hormone levels and the expression of the type 1, 2, and 3 iodothyronine deiodinases (D1, D2, and D3) in liver and skeletal muscle from deceased intensive care patients. To study mechanisms underlying these changes, 65 blood samples, 65 liver, and 66 skeletal muscle biopsies were obtained within minutes after death from 80 intensive care unit patients randomized for intensive or conventional insulin treatment. Serum thyroid parameters and the expression of tissue D1-D3 were determined. Serum TSH, T(4), T(3), and the T(3)/rT(3) ratio were lower, whereas serum rT(3) was higher than in normal subjects (P < 0.0001). Liver D1 activity was down-regulated and D3 activity was induced in liver and skeletal muscle. Serum T(3)/rT(3) ratio correlated positively with liver D1 activity (P < 0.001) and negatively with liver D3 activity (ns). These parameters were independent of the type of insulin treatment. Liver D1 and serum T(3)/rT(3) were highest in patients who died from severe brain damage, intermediate in those who died from sepsis or excessive inflammation, and lowest in patients who died from cardiovascular collapse (P < 0.01). Liver D3 showed an opposite relationship. Acute renal failure requiring dialysis and need of inotropes were associated with low liver D1 activity (P < 0.01 and P = 0.06) and high liver D3 (P < 0.01) and skeletal muscle D3 (P < 0.05) activity. Liver D1 activity was negatively correlated with plasma urea (P = 0.002), creatinine (P = 0.06), and bilirubin (P < 0.0001). D1 and D3 mRNA levels corresponded with enzyme activities (both P < 0.001), suggesting regulation of the expression of both deiodinases at the pretranslational level. This is the first study relating tissue deiodinase activities with serum thyroid hormone levels and clinical parameters in a large group of critically ill patients. Liver D1 is down-regulated and D3 (which is not present in liver and skeletal muscle of healthy individuals) is induced, particularly in disease states associated with poor tissue perfusion. These observed changes, in correlation with a low T(3)/rT(3) ratio, may represent tissue-specific ways to reduce thyroid hormone bioactivity during cellular hypoxia and contribute to the low T(3) syndrome of severe illness.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Endocr Soc
                J Endocr Soc
                jes
                Journal of the Endocrine Society
                Endocrine Society (Washington, DC )
                2472-1972
                01 December 2019
                16 October 2019
                : 3
                : 12
                : 2313-2325
                Affiliations
                Clinical Division and Laboratory of Intensive Care Medicine, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven University Hospital , Leuven, Belgium
                Author notes
                Correspondence:  Greet Van den Berghe, MD, PhD, Herestraat 49 bus 7003, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. E-mail: greet.vandenberghe@ 123456kuleuven.be .
                Article
                201900325
                10.1210/js.2019-00325
                6853682
                Copyright © 2019 Endocrine Society

                This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial, No-Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: European Research Council 10.13039/501100000781
                Award ID: AdvG-2017-785809
                Funded by: Vlaamse regering 10.13039/501100011878
                Award ID: METH/14/06
                Categories
                Mini-Review
                Thyroid

                thyroid hormone, critical illness, sepsis, pediatric, adult

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