Serum Levels of Follistatin Are Positively Associated With Serum-Free Thyroxine Levels in Patients With Hyperthyroidism or Euthyroidism

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Abstract

Follistatin is a glycoprotein with various biologic functions that plays a role in adipocyte differentiation, muscle stimulation, anti-inflammation, and energy homeostasis. Thyroid hormones influence energy expenditure, glucose, and lipid metabolism. The association between serum follistatin level and thyroid function statuses has seldom been evaluated.

The objectives of this study were to compare serum follistatin concentrations in different thyroid function statuses and to evaluate the associations between serum follistatin and free thyroxine (fT4) levels.

In this study, 30 patients with hyperthyroidism (HY group) and 30 euthyroid individuals (EU group) were recruited. The patients of HY group were treated with antithyroid regimens as clinically indicated, whereas no medication was given to EU group. The demographic and anthropometric characteristics, biochemical data, serum levels of follistatin, and thyroid function of both groups at baseline and at the 6th month were compared. Data of all patients were pooled for the analysis of the associations between the levels of follistatin and fT4.

At baseline, the HY group had significantly higher serum follistatin levels than the EU group (median [Q1, Q3]: 1.81 [1.33, 2.78] vs 1.13 [0.39, 1.45] ng/mL, P < 0.001). When treated with antithyroid regimens, the follistatin serum levels in HY group decreased to 1.54 [1.00, 1.88] ng/mL at the 6th month. In all patients, the serum levels of follistatin were positively associated with fT4 levels at baseline (β = 0.54, P = 0.005) and at the 6th month (β = 0.59, P < 0.001). The association between follistatin and fT4 levels remained significant in the stepwise multivariate regression analysis, both initially and at the 6th month.

In comparison to the EU group, patients with hyperthyroidism had higher serum follistatin levels, which decreased after receiving antithyroid treatment. In addition, the serum follistatin concentrations were positively associated with serum fT4 levels in patients with hyperthyroidism or euthyroidism.

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