Layal Chaker, Salman Razvi, Isabela M. Bensenor, Fereidoun Azizi, Elizabeth N. Pearce, Robin P. Peeters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Hypothyroidism is the common clinical condition of thyroid hormone deficiency and, if left untreated, can lead to serious adverse health effects on multiple organ systems, with the cardiovascular system as the most robustly studied target. Overt primary hypothyroidism is defined as elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration in combination with free thyroxine (fT4) concentration below the reference range. Subclinical hypothyroidism, commonly considered an early sign of thyroid failure, is defined by elevated TSH concentrations but fT4 concentrations within the reference range. Hypothyroidism is classified as primary, central or peripheral based on pathology in the thyroid, the pituitary or hypothalamus, or peripheral tissue, respectively. Acquired primary hypothyroidism is the most prevalent form and can be caused by severe iodine deficiency but is more frequently caused by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis in iodine-replete areas. The onset of hypothyroidism is insidious in most cases and symptoms may present relatively late in the disease process. There is a large variation in clinical presentation and the presence of hypothyroid symptoms, especially in pregnancy and in children. Levothyroxine (LT4) is the mainstay of treatment and is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide. After normalization of TSH and fT4 concentrations, a considerable proportion of patients treated with LT4 continue to have persistent complaints, compromising quality of life. Further research is needed regarding the appropriateness of currently applied reference ranges and treatment thresholds, particularly in pregnancy, and the potential benefit of LT4/liothyronine combination therapy for thyroid-related symptom relief, patient satisfaction and long-term adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalNature Reviews Disease Primers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022

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