Study Title:

The Effects of Altered Membrane Cholesterol Levels on Sodium Pump Activity in Subclinical Hypothyroidism.

Study Abstract

Metabolic dysfunctions characteristic of overt hypothyroidism (OH) start at the early stage of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH). Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase (the sodium pump) is a transmembrane enzyme that plays a vital role in cellular activities in combination with membrane lipids. We evaluated the effects of early changes in thyroid hormone and membrane cholesterol on sodium pump activity in SCH and OH patients.

In 32 SCH patients, 35 OH patients, and 34 euthyroid patients, sodium pump activity and cholesterol levels in red blood cell membranes were measured. Serum thyroxine (T₄) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Differences in their mean values were analysed using post hoc analysis of variance. We assessed the dependence of the sodium pump on other metabolites by multiple regression analysis.

Sodium pump activity and membrane cholesterol were lower in both hypothyroid groups than in control group, OH group exhibiting lower values than SCH group. In SCH group, sodium pump activity showed a significant direct dependence on membrane cholesterol with an inverse relationship with serum TSH levels. In OH group, sodium pump activity depended directly on membrane cholesterol and serum T₄ levels. No dependence on serum cholesterol was observed in either case.

Despite the presence of elevated serum cholesterol in hypothyroidism, membrane cholesterol contributed significantly to maintain sodium pump activity in the cells. A critical reduction in membrane cholesterol levels heralds compromised enzyme activity, even in the early stage of hypothyroidism, and this can be predicted by elevated TSH levels alone, without any evident clinical manifestations.

Copyright © 2017 Korean Endocrine Society

Hypothyroidism; Membrane lipids; Sodium-potassium-exchanging ATPase

Study Information

Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2017 Mar;32(1):129-139. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2017.32.1.129. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

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