The plasma concentrations of thyroxine (T4), free thyroxine (free-T4), triiodothyronine (T3), reverse triiodothyronine (rT3), TSH and thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) were measured in 19 children suffering from idiopathic growth hormone deficiency. Blood was taken before and one month after growth hormone treatment. Ten patients were hypothyroid (group 1) and 9 were euthyroid (group 2). The basal T3 and rT3 levels correlated well with the T4 concentrations. Free-T4 levels were very low in all the hypothyroid patients and proved to be the most reliable index of TSH deficiency. TBG concentration was high in the hypopituitary patients regardless of their thyroid function.
Following growth hormone treatment T4, free-T4 and rT3 levels fell in both groups. The T3 concentration rose in group 1 but no change was seen in group 2. There was a significant correlation between the changes of T4 and T3, such that the increase in T3 level was greatest in those with only a slight reduction of T4 concentration and no T3 increase was seen with more marked T4 decreases.
The plasma TBG concentration is enhanced in growth hormone deficiency causing relatively high T4 values. Growth hormone treatment reduces T4 secretion and affects the peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormones resulting in an increase of T3 and a reduction of rT3 concentration.