Plasma thyroid hormone kinetics are altered in iron-deficient rats

John L. Beard, Dale E. Brigham, Sean K. Kelley, Michael H. Green

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85 Citations (SciVal)


Iron deficiency anemia is associated with lower plasma thyroid hormone concentrations in rodents and, in some studies, in humans. The objective of this project was to determine if plasma triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) kinetics were affected by iron deficiency. Studies were done at a near- thermoneutral temperature (3°C), and a cool environmental temperature (15°C), to determine plasma T3 and T4 kinetics as a function of dietary iron intake and environmental need for the hormones. Weanling male Sprague- Dawley rats were fed either a low Fe diet [iron-deficient group (ID), <5 μg/g Fe] or a control diet [control group (CN), 35 μg/g Fe] at each temperature for 7 wk before the tracer kinetic studies. An additional ID group receiving exogenous thyroid hormone replacement was also used at the cooler temperature. For T4, the disposal rate was >60% lower (89 ± 6 vs. 256 ± 53 pmol/h, P < 0.001) in ID rats than in controls at 30°C, and °40% lower (192 ± 27 vs. 372 ± 26 pmol/h, P < 0.01) in ID rats at 15°C. Exogenous T4 replacement in a cohort of ID rats at 15°C normalized the T4 concentration and the disposal rate. For T3, the disposal rate was significantly lower in ID rats in a cool environment (92 ± 11 vs. 129 ± 11 pmol/h, P < 0.01); thyroxine replacement again normalized the T3 disposal rate (126 ± 12 pmol/h). Neither liver nor brown fat thyroxine 5'-deiodinase activities were sufficiently different to explain the lower T3 disposal rates in iron deficiency. Thus, plasma thyroid hormone kinetics in iron deficiency anemia are corrected by simply providing more thyroxine. This suggests a central regulatory defect as the primary lesion and not peripheral alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1408
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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