The effects of levothyroxine replacement or suppressive therapy on health status, mood, and cognition

Mary H. Samuels, Irina Kolobova, Anne Smeraglio, Dawn Peters, Jeri S. Janowsky, Kathryn G. Schuff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Context: TSH-suppressive doses of levothyroxine (L-T4) have adverse effects on bone and cardiac function, but it is unclear whether central nervous system function is also affected. Objective: The aim of the study was to determine whether women receiving TSH-suppressive L-T4 doses have decrements in health status, mood, or cognitive function. Design and Setting: A cross-sectional comparison was made among three groups of women in an academic medical center research clinic. Patients: Twenty-four women receiving chronic TSH-suppressive L-T4 doses, 35 women receiving chronic replacement L-T4 doses, and 20 untreated control women participated in the study. Interventions: Subjects underwent testing at a single outpatient visit. Main Outcome Measures: We measured health status (SF-36), mood (Profile of Mood States, Symptom Checklist 90-R, Affective Lability Scale), and cognitive function (declarative memory [Paragraph Recall], working memory [N-back, Subject Ordered Pointing], motor learning [Pursuit Rotor, Motor Sequence Learning Test], and executive function [Letter Cancellation Test, Trail Making Test, Iowa Gambling Test]). Results: Women receiving TSH-suppressive or replacement L-T4 doses had decrements in health status and mood compared to healthy controls. These decrements were more pronounced in women receiving replacement, rather than suppressive, L-T4 doses. Memory and executive function were not affected in either treated group, compared to healthy controls. Conclusions: Women receiving TSH-suppressive doses of L-T4 do not have central nervous system dysfunction due to exogenous subclinical thyrotoxicosis, but TSH-suppressed and L-T4-replaced women have slight decrements in health status and mood that may be related to self-knowledge of the presence of a thyroid condition or other uncharacterized factors. These mood alterations do not impair cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-851
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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