The effect of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) on the disturbance of lipid metabolism during primary hypothyroidism was studied in 12 women with primary hypothyroidism. Significant increases in both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and intermediate-density lipoprotein cholesterol were seen. Lipoprotein concentrations reverted to normal after substitution with thyroxine (T4) until the euthyroid state was reached. A decrease in IGF-I of 65% (P<0·005) was seen in hypothyroid patients and this was inversely correlated (r=−0·75; P<0·01) with the concentration of LDL cholesterol. Multivariate regression analysis of LDL cholesterol against IGF-I and free T4 showed that IGF-I determines the concentration of LDL cholesterol instead of free T4.
Our data suggest that in hypothyroidism, IGF-I is a determinant of the concentration of LDL cholesterol. In addition, hypothyroidism can influence plasma lipoprotein metabolism by lowering the activity of the salt-resistant lipase (liver lipase).