Postmenopausal women with endogenous subclinical hyperthyroidism seem to have reduced bone mass, which does not correlate with serum thyroid hormone levels. Relative insufficiencies of IGF-I and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) might be additional risk factors for low bone density in these patients. We measured IGF-I, IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) and DHEAS levels together with bone mineral density (BMD) of the femoral neck and lumbar spine in women with an autonomously functioning thyroid nodule. Sixty-three women were classified as subclinical hyperthyroid (31 pre- and 32 postmenopausal) and 39 as overt hyperthyroid (16 pre- and 23 postmenopausal) and results were compared with data obtained from 41 age-matched euthyroid healthy women. In premenopausal women BMD was reduced only in the overt hyperthyroid group, and only in the spine, to 92% (P < 0.05). Serum IGF-I as well as IGFBP-3 were increased in the manifest hyperthyroid group, to 157% (P < 0.001) and 129% (P < 0.05) respectively, whereas DHEAS levels did not change in either premenopausal patient group. In postmenopausal women BMD was significantly reduced both in the subclinical hyperthyroid group (spine to 90% and femoral neck to 88%; P < 0.05), as well as in the hyperthyroid group (spine to 78% and femoral neck to 86%; P < 0.01). In contrast to premenopausal women, serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 did not change in the two groups who were postmenopausal and serum DHEAS levels were reduced to 58% (P < 0.001) in both postmenopausal groups with subclinical as well as overt hyperthyroidism. In the same two groups of patients, serum IGF-I and DHEAS levels correlated with BMD (femoral neck; both r = 0.50, P < 0.05). In conclusion, women with a solitary autonomous thyroid nodule with subclinical hyperthyroidism have reduced BMD only if they are postmenopausal. This is probably due to the effect of subtle increases in thyroid hormone production together with lack of oestrogen protection of the skeleton. But additional risk factors for the development of enhanced bone loss might be a state of relative IGF-I and DHEAS insufficiency in these patients as well as in postmenopausal women with overt hyperthyroidism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism