Treatment of thyroid dysfunction and serum lipids: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Anupam Kotwal, Tiffany Cortes, Natalia Genere, Oksana Hamidi, Sina Jasim, Connie B. Newman, Larry J. Prokop, M. Hassan Murad, Fares Alahdab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Context: Hyperthyroidism is associated with low levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and hypothyroidism is associated with hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the impact of therapy for overt and subclinical hyper- and hypothyroidism on serum lipids. Data Sources: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus from 1970 through April 5, 2018. Study Selection: Pairs of independent reviewers selected randomized and observational studies evaluating lipid parameters in patients undergoing treatment for hyper- or hypothyroidism. Data Extraction: Pairs of independent reviewers extracted data and appraised studies. Data Synthesis: Treatment of overt hyperthyroidism showed a significant increase in total cholesterol (TC) by 44.50 mg/dL (95% confidence interval [CI]: 37.99, 51.02), lowdensity lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by 31.13 mg/dL (95% CI: 24.33, 37.93), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) by 5.52 mg/dL (95% CI: 1.48, 9.56), apolipoprotein A (Apo A) by 15.6 mg/dL (95% CI: 10.38, 20.81), apolipoprotein B (apo B) by 26.12 mg/dL (95% CI: 22.67, 29.57), and lipoprotein (Lp[a]) by 4.18 mg/dL (95% CI: 1.65, 6.71). There was no significant change in triglyceride (TG) levels. Treatment of subclinical hyperthyroidism did not change any lipid parameters significantly. Levothyroxine therapy in overt hypothyroidism showed a statistically significant decrease in TC by -58.4 mg/dL (95% CI: -64.70, -52.09), LDL-C by -41.11 mg/dL (95% CI: -46.53, -35.69), HDL-C by -4.14 mg/dL (95% CI: -5.67, -2.61), TGs by -7.25 mg/dL (95% CI: -36.63, 17.87), apo A by -12.59 mg/dL (95% CI: -17.98, -7.19), apo B by -33.96 mg/dL (95% CI: 41.14, -26.77), and Lp(a) by -5.6 mg/ dL (95% CI: -9.06, -2.14). Levothyroxine therapy in subclinical hypothyroidism showed similar changes but with a smaller magnitude. The studies contained varied population characteristics, severity of thyroid dysfunction, and follow-up duration. Conclusions: Treatment of overt but not subclinical hyperthyroidism is associated with worsening of the lipid profile. Levothyroxine therapy in both overt and subclinical hypothyroidism leads to improvement in the lipid profile, with a smaller magnitude of improvement in subclinical hypothyroidism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3683-3694
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Cholesterol
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Levothyroxine
  • Lipid profile
  • Lipoprotein
  • Thyroid
  • Thyroid dysfunction


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