European Radiology

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 4490–4496 | Cite as

High levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone are associated with aortic wall thickness in the general population

  • Till IttermannEmail author
  • Roberto Lorbeer
  • Marcus Dörr
  • Tobias Schneider
  • Alexander Quadrat
  • Lydia Heßelbarth
  • Michael Wenzel
  • Ina Lehmphul
  • Josef Köhrle
  • Birger Mensel
  • Henry Völzke



Our aim was to investigate the association of thyroid function defined by serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) with thoracic aortic wall thickness (AWT) as a marker of atherosclerotic processes.


We pooled data of 2,679 individuals from two independent population-based surveys of the Study of Health in Pomerania. Aortic diameter and AWT measurements were performed on a 1.5-T MRI scanner at the concentration of the right pulmonary artery displaying the ascending and the descending aorta.


TSH, treated as continuous variable, was significantly associated with descending AWT (β = 0.11; 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.02–0.21), while the association with ascending AWT was not statistically significant (β = 0.20; 95 % CI −0.01–0.21). High TSH (>3.29 mIU/L) was significantly associated with ascending (β = 0.12; 95 % CI 0.02–0.23) but not with descending AWT (β = 0.06; 95 % CI −0.04–0.16). There was no consistent association between TSH and aortic diameters.


Our study demonstrated that AWT values increase with increasing serum TSH concentrations. Thus, a hypothyroid state may be indicative for aortic atherosclerosis. These results fit very well to the findings of previous studies pointing towards increased atherosclerotic risk in the hypothyroid state.

Key Points

Serum TSH concentrations are positively associated with aortic wall thickness.

Serum TSH concentrations are not associated with the aortic diameters.

Serum 3,5-diiodothyronine concentrations may be positively associated with aortic wall thickness.


High thyrotropin 3,5-diiodothyronine Aorta Atherosclerosis Epidemiology 



The scientific guarantor of this publication is Henry Völzke. The authors of this manuscript declare relationships with the following companies: Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany. The study of Health in Pomeranie is part of the Community Medicince Research Network of the University of Medicine Greifswald, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the Ministry for Education, Research and Cultural Affairs, and the Ministriy for Social Affairs of the State Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Analyses were further supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG VO955/10-2 and DFG-SPP 1629 ThyroidTransAct: DFG VO955/12-1 and DFG KO 922/16-1) and the BMELV. Till Ittermann has significant statistical expertise. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects in this study. Since SHIP-2 and SHIP-Trend-0 are population-based studies with a comprehensive examination programme, findings on other research topics have been previously reported from SHIP-Trend-0 and SHIP-2 data. However, this paper reports findings on the association between thyroid function and aortic atherosclerosis, a topic which has not been covered in previous manuscripts from SHIP-2 and SHIP-Trend. Methodology: cross-sectional population-based study.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Till Ittermann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Roberto Lorbeer
    • 3
  • Marcus Dörr
    • 2
    • 4
  • Tobias Schneider
    • 5
  • Alexander Quadrat
    • 5
  • Lydia Heßelbarth
    • 5
  • Michael Wenzel
    • 5
  • Ina Lehmphul
    • 6
  • Josef Köhrle
    • 6
  • Birger Mensel
    • 5
  • Henry Völzke
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Community MedicineUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.DZHK (German Center for Cardiovascular Research), partner site GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Clinical RadiologyLudwig-Maximilians-University Hospital MunichMunichGermany
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine B – Cardiology, Intensive Care, Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious DiseasesUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Diagnostic Radiology and NeuroradiologyUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  6. 6.Institut für Experimentelle EndokrinologieCharité-Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany

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