Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 101–111 | Cite as

Thyroid hormone’s role in regulating brain glucose metabolism and potentially modulating hippocampal cognitive processes

Review Article


Cognitive performance is dependent on adequate glucose supply to the brain. Insulin, which regulates systemic glucose metabolism, has been recently shown both to regulate hippocampal metabolism and to be a mandatory component of hippocampally-mediated cognitive performance. Thyroid hormones (TH) regulate systemic glucose metabolism and may also be involved in regulation of brain glucose metabolism. Here we review potential mechanisms for such regulation. Importantly, TH imbalance is often encountered in combination with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, and may cause additional metabolic dysregulation and hence worsening of disease states. TH’s potential as a regulator of brain glucose metabolism is heightened by interactions with insulin signaling, but there have been relatively few studies on this topic or on the actions of TH in a mature brain. This review discusses evidence for mechanistic links between TH, insulin, cognitive function, and brain glucose metabolism, and reaches the conclusion that TH may modulate memory processes, likely at least in part by modulation of central insulin signaling and glucose metabolism.


Insulin Thyroid hormone Diabetes GluT Glucose 


Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Outcomes Assessment and Institutional ResearchExcelsior CollegeAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Neuroscience and Center for Neuroscience ResearchUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA

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