Issue: 2011 > May > review

Illness-induced changes in thyroid hormone metabolism: focus on the tissue level

J. Kwakkel, E. Fliers, A. Boelen


During illness changes in thyroid hormone metabolism
occur, collectively known as the non-thyroidal illness
syndrome (NTIS). NTIS is characterised by low serum
thyroid hormone levels without the expected rise in serum thyroid-stimulating hormone, indicating a major change in thyroid hormone feedback regulation. Recent studies have made clear that during NTIS differential changes in thyroid hormone metabolism occur in various tissues, the net effect of which may be either activation or inhibition of thyroid hormone action. In this review we discuss systemic and local changes in thyroid hormone metabolism during illness, highlighting their physiological implications in terms of disease course.