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Context: Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and cognitive dysfunction are both common in the elderly and have been linked. It is important to determine whether T 4 replacement therapy in SCH confers cognitive benefit. Objective: Our objective was to determine whether administration of T 4 replacement to achieve biochemical euthyroidism in subjects with SCH improves cognitive function. Design and Setting:Weconducted a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized controlled trial in the context of United Kingdom primary care. Patients: Ninety-four subjects aged 65 yr and over (57 females, 37 males) with SCH were recruited from a population of 147 identified by screening. Intervention: T 4 or placebo was given at an initial dosage of one tablet of either placebo or 25 μg T 4 per day for 12 months. Thyroid function tests were performed at 8-weekly intervals with dosage adjusted in one-tablet increments to achieve TSH within the reference range for subjects in treatment arm. Fifty-two subjects received T 4 (31 females, 21 males; mean age 73.5 yr, range 65-94 yr); 42 subjects received placebo (26 females, 16 males; mean age 74.2 yr, 66-84 yr). Main Outcome Measures: Mini-Mental State Examination, Middlesex Elderly Assessment of Mental State (covering orientation, learning, memory, numeracy, perception, attention, and language skills), and Trail-Making A and B were administered. Results: Eighty-two percent and 84% in the T 4 group achieved euthyroidism at 6- and 12-month intervals, respectively. Cognitive function scores at baseline and 6 and 12 months were as follows: Mini-Mental State Examination T 4 group, 28.26, 28.9, and 28.28, and placebo group, 28.17, 2 7.82, and 28.25 [not significant (NS)]; Middlesex Elderly Assessment of Mental State T 4 group, 11.72, 11.67, and 11.78, and placebo group, 11.21, 11.47, and 11.44 (NS); Trail-Making A T 4 group, 45.72, 47.65, and 44.52, and placebo group, 50.29, 49.00, and 46.97 (NS); and Trail-Making B T 4 group, 110.57, 106.61, and 96.67, and placebo group, 131.46, 119.13, and 108.38 (NS). Linear mixed-model analysis demonstrated no significant changes in any of the measures of cognitive function over time and no between-group difference in cognitive scores at 6 and 12 months. Conclusions: This RCT provides no evidence for treating elderly subjects with SCH with T 4 replacement therapy to improve cognitive function. Copyright © 2010 by The Endocrine Society.

Original publication

DOI

10.1210/jc.2009-2571

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

Publication Date

01/01/2010

Volume

95

Pages

3623 - 3632