The aims of the present study were to determine the influence of brief subclinical hypothyroidism on the isoforms of serum thyrotropin (TSH) and to examine the net charge of TSH in different metabolic states. Sera were obtained from euthyroid subjects (n=7) and from patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (n=8) before and 30 min after the intravenous administration of 200 μg thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). The TSH from human pituitary extracts (IRP 68/38), basal and TRH-stimulated serum TSH was immunoconcentrated and further analysed by isoelectric focusing (IEF) and lentil lectin affinity chromatography. TSH immunoreactivity was determined in each specimen or fraction with an automated highly sensitive chemiluminometric TSH assay. We found that basal TSH in subclinical hypothyroidism, and TRH-released TSH in euthyroidism and in subclinical hypothyroidism is distributed in a similar neutral to acidic pattern, which significantly differs from the more alkaline to neutral isoform pattern of intrapituitary TSH (P<0·05). IEF analysis of pituitary standard TSH revealed 3 major peaks (pI values 7·5; 6·6; 5·8) whereas in most euthyroid or subclinically hypothyroid subjects 5 peaks were found. Lentil lectin affinity chromatography revealed that TRH-released TSH in euthyroid subjects has more core fucose residues than TSH from patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (64·6 ±6·7 vs 12·5 ±2·7%, P<0·0001).
Thus pituitary standard TSH seems to be less mature material than circulating TSH. Perhaps no alteration in the IEF pattern of TSH was detected during early hypothyroidism because sialylation of TSH was increasing as sulfatation was decreasing. Nevertheless, a change in the core fucose content of TSH was detectable by lentil analysis.
Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 144, 561–567