The Relationship Between Thyroid Function and the Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Euthyroid Subjects

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Thyroid hormones (THs) are primarily responsible for the regulation of energy balance and metabolism, suggesting that TH levels may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, few studies have investigated the relationship between TH and T2DM in a general population. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether serum TH levels within the reference range are related to T2DM.


A cross-sectional study (n = 15,296) was performed in Tianjin, China. Serum free triiodothyronine (FT3), free thyroxine (FT4), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured by chemiluminescence immunoassay, and T2DM was defined according to the American Diabetes Association criteria. Multiple logistic regression models were used to assess the sex-specific relationships between FT3, FT4, FT3/FT4 ratios, and TSH quintiles and T2DM.


The prevalence of T2DM was 16.2% in males and 7.7% in females. In males, the multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) of T2DM for increasing quintiles of FT3, FT4, and FT3/FT4 ratios were 1.00, 0.75(0.63 to 0.89), 0.70(0.58 to 0.84), 0.63(0.52 to 0.76), 0.56(0.46 to 0.68; P for trend < 0.0001); 1.00, 1.05(0.87 to 1.27), 1.16(0.96 to 1.40), 1.09(0.90 to 1.31), 1.29(1.07 to 1.56; P for trend = 0.01); and 1.00, 0.69(0.58 to 0.83), 0.72(0.60 to 0.86), 0.59(0.48 to 0.71), and 0.55(0.46 to 0.66; P for trend < 0.0001), respectively. Similar results also were observed in females. In contrast, a strong negative correlation between TSH and T2DM was observed in males, but not in females.


This study demonstrated that decreased FT3, FT3/FT4 ratios, and increased FT4 levels are independently related to a higher prevalence of T2DM in both males and females, and TSH is inversely related to T2DM in males only.

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