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Anindya Dasgupta  (Dasgupta A) 1 Article
The Effects of Altered Membrane Cholesterol Levels on Sodium Pump Activity in Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Suparna Roy, Anindya Dasgupta
Endocrinol Metab. 2017;32(1):129-139.   Published online February 28, 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3803/EnM.2017.32.1.129
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Background

Metabolic dysfunctions characteristic of overt hypothyroidism (OH) start at the early stage of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH). Na+/K+-ATPase (the sodium pump) is a transmembrane enzyme that plays a vital role in cellular activities in combination with membrane lipids. We evaluated the effects of early changes in thyroid hormone and membrane cholesterol on sodium pump activity in SCH and OH patients.

Methods

In 32 SCH patients, 35 OH patients, and 34 euthyroid patients, sodium pump activity and cholesterol levels in red blood cell membranes were measured. Serum thyroxine (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Differences in their mean values were analysed using post hoc analysis of variance. We assessed the dependence of the sodium pump on other metabolites by multiple regression analysis.

Results

Sodium pump activity and membrane cholesterol were lower in both hypothyroid groups than in control group, OH group exhibiting lower values than SCH group. In SCH group, sodium pump activity showed a significant direct dependence on membrane cholesterol with an inverse relationship with serum TSH levels. In OH group, sodium pump activity depended directly on membrane cholesterol and serum T4 levels. No dependence on serum cholesterol was observed in either case.

Conclusion

Despite the presence of elevated serum cholesterol in hypothyroidism, membrane cholesterol contributed significantly to maintain sodium pump activity in the cells. A critical reduction in membrane cholesterol levels heralds compromised enzyme activity, even in the early stage of hypothyroidism, and this can be predicted by elevated TSH levels alone, without any evident clinical manifestations.

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Endocrinol Metab : Endocrinology and Metabolism