Serum triiodothyronine levels and inflammatory cytokine production capacity

Maarten P. Rozing*, Rudi G J Westendorp, Andrea B. Maier, Carolien A. Wijsman, Marijke Frölich, Anton J M De Craen, Diana Van Heemst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Increasing evidence suggests that pro-inflammatory cytokines are at play in lowering peripheral thyroid hormone levels during critical illness. Conversely, thyroid hormones have been suggested to enhance production of inflammatory cytokines. In view of these considerations, we hypothesized a mutual association between triiodothyronine and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore we evaluated the relation between both circulating and induced inflammatory markers and serum thyroid function parameters in the Leiden 85-plus Study. We found that higher circulating levels of inflammatory markers were associated with lower levels of free serum triiodothyronine. In turn, higher serum free triiodothyronine levels were related to higher production capacity of pro-inflammatory cytokines after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide. By combining in vivo and ex vivo data, we were able to demonstrate for the first time the existence of a potential feedback mechanism between thyroid function and immune production capacity. We conclude that maintenance of normal thyroid function might be important for a preserved immune response in elderly human populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Aging
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Thyroid

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