Few studies have included subjects with the propensity to reach old age in good health, with the aim to disentangle mechanisms contributing to staying healthier for longer. The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis maintains circulating levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormone (TH) in an inverse relationship. Greater longevity has been associated with higher TSH and lower TH levels, but mechanisms underlying TSH/TH differences and longevity remain unknown. The HPT axis plays a pivotal role in growth, development and energy metabolism. We report that offspring of nonagenarians with at least one nonagenarian sibling have increased TSH secretion but similar bioactivity of TSH and similar TH levels compared to controls. Healthy offspring and spousal controls had similar resting metabolic rate and core body temperature. We propose that pleiotropic effects of the HPT axis may favour longevity without altering energy metabolism.
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