The role of cytokines in the lipopolysaccharide-induced sick euthyroid syndrome in mice

in Journal of Endocrinology

Abstract

To evaluate the role of cytokines in the sick euthyroid syndrome, we tried to establish an animal model of non-thyroidal illness in mice by the administration of a sub-lethal dose of bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide; LPS) which induces a variety of cytokines, including tumour necrosis factor (TNFα), interleukin-1 (IL-1α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (IFNγ). When compared with pair-fed controls, a single dose of LPS resulted in (a) systemic illness, (b) induction of TNFα and IL-6 and (c) a decrease of liver 5′-deiodinase mRNA from 4 h onwards followed by a decrease of serum tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) at 8 h and of serum free T3 (fT3) and free T4 (fT4) at 24 h; serum TSH remained unchanged.

We then studied whether a single dose or a combination of IL-1α, TNFα, IL-6 or IFNγ could induce the sick euthyroid syndrome in mice, again using pair-fed controls. None of the cytokines except IL-1α caused systemic illness, and IL-1α was the only cytokine that decreased liver 5′-deiodinase mRNA transiently. IL-1α, TNFα or IL-6 did not decrease serum T3, T4 and TSH, but administration of IFNγ decreased serum T4, T3 and fT3 in a dose-dependent manner without changes in serum TSH. Administration of all four cytokines together had no synergistic effects; observed changes were of a smaller magnitude than after LPS.

The following conclusions were reached. (1) Administration of LPS in mice is a suitable experimental model for the acute induction of the sick euthyroid syndrome. (2) Acute administration of IL-1α, TNFα or IL-6 in mice does not induce changes in thyroid hormones but IFNγ results in a dose-dependent decrease of serum T4, T3 and fT3 and IL-1α decreases liver 5′-deiodinase mRNA transiently. (3) Combined administration of IL-1α, TNFα, IL-6 and IFNγ had no synergistic effects; observed changes were of a smaller magnitude than after LPS. (4) The LPS-induced sick euthyroid syndrome is currently best explained by a direct thyroidal inhibition due to IFNγ and an extrathyroidal inhibition of liver 5′-deiodinase due to IL-1α, but other still unidentified factors seem to be involved as well.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 146, 475–483

 

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