You have probably heard that hypothyroidism manifests in low thyroid hormone levels, and you may have heard that inflammation plays a big role.
That is just half the story.
A new study in the Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology demonstrates how the lack of a specific protein is the main culprit in hypothyroidism.
Thyroid hormones play a big role in our body’s metabolism—specifically, how it breaks down and uses nutrients. People who have problems with their thyroid often have metabolism issues.
Our bodies also have a protein called gelsolin that is important in many cell functions, including metabolism.
Because of this apparent connection, the study’s authors wanted to see whether gelsolin levels were different in people with hypothyroidism and whether their gelsolin levels could predict complications of their condition.
They recruited 120 patients with hypothyroidism and 60 healthy people aged 20 to 50. They split those with hypothyroidism into two groups: those with overt hypothyroidism and those with subclinical hypothyroidism.
Overt hypothyroidism refers to a condition in which patients actually have low thyroid hormone levels.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is characterized by high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, which indicates that the thyroid needs unusually high stimulation to produce its hormones.
The scientists used tests to measure their subjects’ levels of gelsolin, insulin, and thyroid hormones in their blood. They also looked at their fat profiles.
Their investigation produced the following results:
1. Participants with hypothyroidism had lower gelsolin levels in their blood than their healthy peers had.
2. Those with overt hypothyroidism had lower levels of gelsolin than those whose condition was subclinical.
3. Lower gelsolin in the overt group was related to older age and lower levels of the T3 thyroid hormone.
4. In the subclinical group, lower gelsolin levels were linked to lower levels of TT3 and higher levels of fats in the blood.
Thus, people with hypothyroidism are more likely than other people to have low gelsolin, and the lower their gelsolin level is, the more severe their hypothyroidism and its complications are.
The problem with gelsolin is that it is quickly used up when there’s a lot of tissue damage, so if you are deficient, you will have to eat plenty of proteins so that your body can continue making enough of it.
The scientists couldn’t tell whether the low gelsolin was a cause or consequence of hypothyroidism.
It’s possible that it is the cause and that people with low gelsolin have another condition, such as diabetes, that causes inflammation and tissue damage.
It is also possible that it is a consequence and that the thyroid damage responsible for hypothyroidism depletes it in the blood.
In either case, it is important to consume enough proteins whose amino acids your body can use to produce enough gelsolin.