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July 1979

Thyroid Axis in Patients With Cushing's Syndrome

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Endocrinology/Metabolism and Internal Medicine (Dr Duick) and the Section of Diagnostic Nuclear Medicine (Dr Wahner),

Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(7):767-772. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630440033013

Thyroid hormone values and serum thyrotropin (thyroidstimulating hormone [TSH]) responses to the intravenous administration of 400 μg of protirelin were determined in ten patients with Cushing's syndrome and in ten matched normal subjects. In patients with Cushing's syndrome, the serum thyroxine (T4) level was mildly depressed and free T3 level was normal. The mean ( ± SD) concentrations of serum triiodothyronine (T3) and free T3 were both reduced in patients compared with normal subjects (P <.001). At 20 and 60 minutes after protirelin administration, serum TSH levels were, respectively, 3.3 ± 2.7 μU/mL and 2.6 ± 2.3 μU/mL in patients with Cushing's syndrome and 12.3 ± 5.4 μU/mL and 10.7 ± 5.4 μU/mL in normal subjects (P <.001). The reduced serum T3 and free T3 levels are due to a glucocorticoid suppressive effect on the peripheral conversion of T3 to T3. The protirelin test is of limited value in assessing the thyroid status because the response of TSH is frequently blunted or absent due to glucocorticoid excess.

(Arch Intern Med 139:767-772, 1979)