Thyroid Function in Adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome; a Cohort Study and Literature Review

Karlijn Pellikaan, Fleur Snijders, Anna G.W. Rosenberg, Kirsten Davidse, Sjoerd A.A. van den Berg, W. Edward Visser, Aart J. van der Lely, Laura C.G. de Graaff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is a complex genetic syndrome combining hypotonia, hyperphagia, a PWS-specific neurocognitive phenotype, and pituitary hormone deficiencies, including hypothyroidism. The low muscle mass associated with PWS causes a low energy expenditure due to a low basal metabolic rate. Combined with increased energy intake due to hyperphagia, this results in a high risk of obesity and associated cardiovascular disease. To reduce the high mortality in PWS (3% yearly), exercise is extremely important. As hypothyroidism can impair exercise tolerance, early detection is crucial. We performed a literature search for articles on hypothyroidism in PWS, measured thyroid hormone (TH) levels in 122 adults with PWS, and performed a medical file search for medication use. Hypothyroidism (low free thyroxin) was present in 17%, and often central in origin (80%). Triiodothyronine levels were lower in patients who used psychotropic drugs, while other TH levels were similar. One in six patients in our cohort of adults with PWS had hypothyroidism, which is more than in non-PWS adults (3%). We recommend yearly screening of free thyroxin and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels to avoid the negative effects of untreated hypothyroidism on basal metabolic rate, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk. Additionally, we recommend measuring TH concentrations 3–4 months after the start of growth hormone treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3804
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


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