First published February 1, 1975 - More info
Propylthiouracil (PTU) inhibits peripheral deiodination of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) and decreases the metabolic effectiveness of T4 in animals. To assess the effect of PTU on extrathyroidal conversion of T4 to T3 in man, 15 studies were performed in athyreotic patients treated with 100 or 200 mug of L-T4 daily for 1 mo before the addition of PTU, 250 mg every 6 h for 8 days. serum T3, T4, and thyrotropin (TSH) were measured daily by radioimmunoassay; serum TSH response to 500-mug thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) was measured before and on the last day of giving PTU. On the 100-mug LT4 dose, serum T3 fell from 120 plus or minus 5 (SE) to 83 plus or minus 6 ng/dl (P less than 0.005) with return to 113 plus or minus 5 ng/dl after stopping PTU; serum T4 (4.5 plus or minus 0.3 mug/dl) did not change. Similar results were seen in patients taking 200 mug of L-T4 daily. On the 100-mug dose of L-T4 the fall in T3 was accompanied by a reciprocal rise in serum TSH to 195 plus or minus 33% of initial concentration (P less than 0.01) with return to 104 plus or minus 8% after PTU. The serum TSH response to TRH (DELTAMUU/ml over base line) was greater during PTU therapy than during the control period. On 100-mug L-T4 DELTA TSH rose from 64 plus or minus 19 to 101 plus or minus 23 muU/ml (P less than 0.005). Expressed as percent of base-line TSH concentration, TSH rose from 140 plus or minus 52 to 280 plus or minus 44% (control vs. PTU) at 15 min, 265 plus or minus 72 to 367 plus or minus 63% at 30 min, 223 plus or minus 54 to 313 plus or minus 54% at 45 min, 187 plus or minus 45 to 287 plus or minus 51% at 60 min, and 145 plus or minus 22 to 210 plus or minus 28% at 120 min after TRH. The data suggest that PTU blocks extrathyroidal conversion of T4 to T3, thus increasing pituitary TSH secretion and augmenting the TSH response to TRH.