Effect of Metformin on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis Activity in Elderly Antipsychotic-Treated Women With Type 2 Diabetes and Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Preliminary Study

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Abstract

Metformin was found to reduce elevated serum thyrotropin levels, and this effect was partially determined by endogenous dopaminergic tone. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of metformin treatment on hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis activity in elderly women with subclinical hypothyroidism treated with antipsychotic agents and not receiving this drug. The study population consisted of 34 elderly women with subclinical hypothyroidism, 16 of whom received antipsychotic drugs. Because of coexistent type 2 diabetes, these women were treated with metformin (2.55–3 g daily). Glucose homeostasis markers as well as serum levels of thyrotropin, free thyroid hormones and prolactin were measured at the beginning of the study and 6 months later. Thirty women completed the study. With the exception of prolactin, baseline serum levels of the assessed hormones were comparable in both study groups. Although metformin reduced serum thyrotropin levels in both groups, this effect was more pronounced in the antipsychotic-treated than in the antipsychotic-naive patients. The effect on serum prolactin was observed only in antipsychotic-treated patients. The impact on serum thyrotropin levels correlated with improvement in insulin sensitivity and with a reduction in prolactin levels. Free thyroxine and free triiodothyronine remained at a similar level throughout the study. The obtained results indicate that metformin reduces serum thyrotropin levels in elderly women, and this effect is particularly pronounced in women with diminished dopaminergic transmission.

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