Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2020; 128(06/07): 432-436
DOI: 10.1055/a-1101-9090

The Influence of Thyroid Hormones on Brain Structure and Function in Humans

Anna Göbel
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Martin Göttlich
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Jonathan Reinwald
2   Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
Berenike Rogge
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Jan-Christoph Uter
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Marcus Heldmann
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
3   Department of Psychology II, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Alexander Sartorius
2   Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
Georg Brabant
4   Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
Thomas F. Münte
1   Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
3   Department of Psychology II, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Funding: This study was supported by the DFG MU1311/16–2 awarded to TFM, AS and GB. The funding source did not influence any stage of this project.


The pleiotropic function of thyroid hormones (TH) is mediated by an organ specific expression of thyroid hormone transporters, deiodinases and TH receptors. In a series of studies we used the model of an experimentally induced hyper- or hypothyroidism in human volunteers to delineate TH action on the brain. A battery of neuropsychological testing paradigms was employed and complemented by structural and functional multimodal neuroimaging. Experimentally induced mild thyrotoxicosis for 6 weeks was associated with changes in brain structure (determined with voxel-based morphometry), resting state functional connectivity, and task-related functional activation in a working memory paradigm. Partial withdrawal of TH replacement in patients without thyroid (subclinical hypothyroidism) likewise lead to changes on multiple functional and structural brain measures. Importantly, the series of studies reviewed here identified the cerebellum as one crucial site of action.

Publication History

Received: 29 June 2019
Received: 03 January 2020

Accepted: 20 January 2020

Article published online:
10 February 2020

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Stuttgart · New York

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