Serum levels of thyrotropin, thyroid hormones and their response to thyrotropin releasing hormone in infective febrile illnesses.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1977 Feb; 44(2):398-403.JC
In 25 patients suffering from fever of infection, serum levels of thyrotropin (TSH), thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine binding globulin (TBG) were estimated on two consecutive days during the febrile period and again 3 to 10 days after the fever had subsided. The serum TSH and T3 responses to 100 mug iv TRH were also studied during fever. Hormones were estimated by specific radioimmunoassays and TBG by radioligand binding assay. As compared with age and sex matched normal controls, patients with fever of infection had significantly lowered levels of total serum T3 and TBG. The serum TSH and total T4 concentrations were not significantly altered. During fever both % FT4 and absolute FT4 were significantly elevated, whereas only % FT3 was significantly increased and due to lowered serum total T3 levels the absolute FT3 were not significantly altered as compared to that in normal subjects. After the fever had subsided, the serum T3 levels returned to normal and the serum TBG levels increased. There was no correlation between basal serum levels of T3 and TSH during fever. Although in response to iv TRH the mean rise in serum TSH during fever was comparable to that in normal subjects, the overall TSH response showed an inverse correlation with serum TT3 levels. Following iv TRH there was a significant increase in serum T3 levels and the T3 response in fever was comparable to that in normal subjects. These data suggest that hormone secretion by the thyroid and its responsiveness to endogenous TSH are maintained during fever. The lowered T3 levels are not suggestive of a hypothyroid state, but perhaps could be due to decreased peripheral conversion of T4 to T3 and to decreased binding of T3 to serum proteins. The exact mechanism or significance of these alterations in thyroid function during febrile illness remains to be elucidated.