Posted on Oct 20, 2020, 6 p.m.
Approximately 10% of the Western population is affected by thyroid dysfunction, those with diagnosed thyroid dysfunction are regularly treated with medication to help regulate their hormone imbalance, and the effect of these drugs are clinically evaluated via blood testing.
Recently a team of researchers led by Michael Krebs from MedUni Vienna’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism have conducted a study to investigate the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the effect on body tissue as well. Findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism describe how the team was able to identify certain phosphorus-containing compounds that are visible in NMRS as markers of thyroid hormone action in tissues.
The most common thyroid dysfunction in Western populations is an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, in which patients are routinely treated with thyroxine which is monitored with blood testing. 10-15% of all patients treated will continue to experience problems such as tiredness and lethargy.
Animal studies show that treatment with hormones to combat thyroid insufficiency displays normal blood concentrations but a hypofunction is nonetheless detected in their tissue. A number of studies have shown the effect of many hormones is dependent upon the blood concentration and the complex regulatory mechanisms in the cells which are controlled in the short term.
Working in collaboration with the Center of Excellence for High Field MR, the team has developed a non-invasive method for measuring thyroid hormone action in blood and in tissue. As such the team was able to identify certain phosphorus-containing compounds that are visible in NMRS as markers for thyroid hormone action in tissues which allows hormone action to be determined in different areas of the body including in muscles or in the liver like a virtual tissue section. The team has plans to test the new method in clinical practice with the goal to provide better care for patients.
“The regulation of hormone action not only via the blood concentration but also via local control in the tissues has long been underestimated. If we are able to develop methods for visualizing this phenomenon in practice, we are opening up completely new worlds,” said Michael Krebs, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Medical University of Vienna.
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