Targeting the right population for T3 + T4 combined therapy: where are we now and where to next?


The universal applicability of levothyroxine (LT4) monotherapy for the treatment of hypothyroidism has been questioned in recent years. Indeed, it is now clear that about 10–15% of LT4-treated hypothyroid patients are dissatisfied with their treatment. It is plausible that this subset of hypothyroid patients may need T3 + T4 combined therapy to restore peripheral euthyroidism. To address this issue, many clinical trials have investigated the effect of T3 + T4 combinations versus standard LT4-based therapy. However, to date, results have been inconclusive, mainly due to the lack of markers that identify candidates for combination therapy. A breakthrough in this field came with the recent finding that several single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the deiodinase genes are associated with the persistence of hypothyroid symptoms in biochemically euthyroid LT4-treated patients, and are thus markers of candidates for combination therapy. In addition, whole-genome association studies are expanding our knowledge of other genes of the thyroid hormone (TH) pathway that affect serum TH levels. To target the right population for the T3 + T4 combined therapy, the next step is to translate these new findings into prospective trials. Hopefully, this will pave the way to personalized therapy for each hypothyroid patient.

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The authors thank Jean Ann Gilder (Scientific Communication srl., Naples, Italy) for writing assistance.

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TP wrote the paper and DS wrote and reviewed the paper.

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Correspondence to Tommaso Porcelli.

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Porcelli, T., Salvatore, D. Targeting the right population for T3 + T4 combined therapy: where are we now and where to next?. Endocrine (2020).

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  • Hypothyroidism
  • Personalized therapy
  • SNPs
  • Deiodinases
  • TH pathway