The effect of large doses of glucocorticoids on thyrotropin (TSH) secretion in normal and hypothyroid humans has been studied. Plasma TSH concentrations were measured before, during, and after treatment with dexamethasone given orally for 24-48 hr. In 17 patients with primary hypothyroidism, plasma TSH levels fell significantly during treatment to a mean of 54% of control (range 23-96%). Within 48 hr after the withdrawal of dexamethasone, TSH concentrations transiently increased above pretreatment values. The mean increase was to 156% of control (range 106-294). Similar changes, but of smaller magnitude, were observed in 15 normal subjects. Administration of single oral doses of dexamethasone and oral or intravenous doses of cortisol were followed by reduction of plasma TSH levels to 18-47% of control within 8-12 hr in eight hypothyroid patients. This fall also was followed by significant TSH rises above control values before they returned to the pretreatment levels. Mineralocorticoid administration was not followed by any changes in plasma TSH concentrations in three subjects.
John F. Wilber, Robert D. Utiger