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BACKGROUND: Subclinical hyperthyroidism (SHyper) has been associated with increased risk of hip and other fractures, but the linking mechanisms remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between subclinical thyroid dysfunction and bone loss. METHODS: Individual participant data analysis was performed after a systematic literature search in MEDLINE/EMBASE (1946-2016). Two reviewers independently screened and selected prospective cohorts providing baseline thyroid status and serial bone mineral density (BMD) measurements. We classified thyroid status as euthyroidism (thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH] 0.45-4.49 mIU/L), SHyper (TSH < 0.45 mIU/L) and subclinical hypothyroidism (SHypo, TSH ≥ 4.50-19.99 mIU/L) both with normal free thyroxine levels. Our primary outcome was annualized percentage BMD change (%ΔBMD) from serial dual X-ray absorptiometry scans of the femoral neck, total hip and lumbar spine, obtained from multivariable regression in a random-effects two-step approach. RESULTS: Amongst 5458 individuals (median age 72 years, 49.1% women) from six prospective cohorts, 451 (8.3%) had SHypo and 284 (5.2%) had SHyper. During 36 569 person-years of follow-up, those with SHyper had a greater annual bone loss at the femoral neck versus euthyroidism: %ΔBMD = -0.18 (95% CI: -0.34, -0.02; I2 = 0%), with a nonstatistically significant pattern at the total hip: %ΔBMD = -0.14 (95% CI: -0.38, 0.10; I2 = 53%), but not at the lumbar spine: %ΔBMD = 0.03 (95% CI: -0.30, 0.36; I2 = 25%); especially participants with TSH < 0.10 mIU/L showed an increased bone loss in the femoral neck (%Δ BMD = -0.59; [95% CI: -0.99, -0.19]) and total hip region (%ΔBMD = -0.46 [95% CI: -1.05, -0.13]). In contrast, SHypo was not associated with bone loss at any site. CONCLUSION: Amongst adults, SHyper was associated with increased femoral neck bone loss, potentially contributing to the increased fracture risk.

Original publication




Journal article


J Intern Med

Publication Date





56 - 72


bone density, bone loss, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, prospective studies, thyroid disease, Aged, Asymptomatic Diseases, Bone Density, Female, Fractures, Bone, Humans, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, Male, Risk Factors