Local delivery of thyroid hormone enhances oligodendrogenesis and myelination after spinal cord injury

Of course, we keep getting told that liothyronine has no place in medicine. Then we read of all the amazing ways in which it is being researched - successfully.

Neural Eng. 2017 Mar 30;14(3):036014. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa6450. [Epub ahead of print]

Local delivery of thyroid hormone enhances oligodendrogenesis and myelination after spinal cord injury.

Shultz RB1, Wang Z, Nong J, Zhang Z, Zhong Y.

Author information

1 School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States of America.



Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) causes apoptosis of myelin-forming oligodendrocytes (OLs) and demyelination of surviving axons, resulting in conduction failure. Remyelination of surviving denuded axons provides a promising therapeutic target for spinal cord repair. While cell transplantation has demonstrated efficacy in promoting remyelination and functional recovery, the lack of ideal cell sources presents a major obstacle to clinical application. The adult spinal cord contains oligodendrocyte precursor cells and multipotent neural stem/progenitor cells that have the capacity to differentiate into mature, myelinating OLs. However, endogenous oligodendrogenesis and remyelination processes are limited by the upregulation of remyelination-inhibitory molecules in the post-injury microenvironment. Multiple growth factors/molecules have been shown to promote OL differentiation and myelination.


In this study we screened these therapeutics and found that 3, 3', 5-triiodothyronine (T3) is the most effective in promoting oligodendrogenesis and OL maturation in vitro. However, systemic administration of T3 to achieve therapeutic doses in the injured spinal cord is likely to induce hyperthyroidism, resulting in serious side effects.


In this study we developed a novel hydrogel-based drug delivery system for local delivery of T3 to the injury site without eliciting systemic toxicity.


Using a clinically relevant cervical contusion injury model, we demonstrate that local delivery of T3 at doses comparable to safe human doses promoted new mature OL formation and myelination after SCI.

PMID: 28358726

DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa6450


21 Replies

  • Thank you for this link. It's a pity the Endocrinology Depts will not admit that some of us need it to recover our health. They probably think our requests are 'fashionable' or some such reason. Not that it can remove disabling symptoms for many of us. Just as levothyroxine suits a certain section, liothyronine (or even the addition to levo) can make an enormous difference.

    Also that it has now been found to be so beneficial with regard to spinal cord injuries must give hope to many.

  • I suffer from scoliosis and spinal stenosis, plus arthritis of the spine. I am losing sensation in my feet, and surface of my legs, and am sometimes unable to move my toes. They feel cold all the time. I was told by my orthopedic surgeon that its because the spinal cord is probably damaged and I will likely end up wheelchair bound. I am restarting t3 after a break, and will monitor this carefully.

  • I am sorry you have all of these additional problems. I think your doctor should refer you to a neurologist who should be far more expert than an orthopaedic doctor. i.e.

    A doctor who specializes in neurology is called a neurologist. The neurologist treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, such as: Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke. Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis

    Request a referral and don't be shy about it.

    I am also sorry that the orthopedic surgeon seems a bit harsh to me. Considering that you have all these problems.

  • I have already tried, believe me.

    Basically, if I want any more treatment I have to pay. My scoliosis is caused by a bad disc bulge, and there is "no surgical solution". Because it can't be treated and I'm 71 this year, they refuse to do anything. Its not just thyroid problems that are written off nowadays.

    I dont think he meant to be harsh, it came as part of a warning not to abuse my back if I want to stay upright, even if it is with the aid of elbow crutches - which I now also have to pay for myself as the hospital wont help.

    Its ironic that my back problem was due to going hypo and becoming very unfit, then being told to pull myself together because it was all in my head. I tried, and injured my back.

  • I am sorry but it's strange how they put the blame on the patient, rather than doing their utmost to assist. If they said it was ' all in your head' they have a lot to answer for and doctors like that are in the wrong profession. They have no compassion or care.

  • I agree, though I am very lucky with my present GP who pushes his luck to help. He is a very kind, lovely man, who became a GP to try and help people and hes frustrated with the way hes controlled now. He takes me seriously, discusses things and supports me with self medication. He would prescribd t3 if he could and has asked for my source of t3, so he can help some other patients in my position. I am in a dilemma, because much as I would like to, I am reluctant knowing the NHS position on liothyronine.

  • I realise why you are cautious. I don't think it would do him any good either, if one of his patients became unwell on T3 for some reason or another.

  • Yes I agree, though I imagine he would just give them the website address and leave it to them. The great thing is hes open to talking and learning and realises hes not doing his best for hypo patients.

  • I was speaking to a friend today about T3 and she mentioned someone that she knows is self medicating T3 for depression after everything else failed to ease his clinical depression.

    In America T3 it sometimes used to treat depression....

  • It was first used for depression in the 1950s, which I think might be soon after it was discovered/developed.

  • That was how T3 sadly gained a negative reputation. It was noticed that some people also lost weight so T3 was abused and some ended up with heart problems having taken too much ....

    Not an experience - something I read 😊

  • Marz i though the STAR study where large doses of T3 were used found it did not make the subjects with fast cycling bipolar (for which T3 is especially effective and little else is) hyperthyroid and c60% got some relief and 30% total remission from symptoms. How could It them affect their heart? Was that not due to its use as a slimming with other unhealthy drugs?

  • Sorry I do not know. I am aware that T3 is a cure for so much as the study you mention reveals. My comment was just that - a comment - but one that is trotted out almost daily by Endos/Docs - possibly based on a mis-use of T3 years ago.

    As you know Thyroid hormones can affect the heart - the book on Amazon - The Thyroid and Heart Failure - is interesting 😊

    I am T3 only ....

  • Marz i think T3 was used with amphetamine in A very indescriminate manner as a slimming aid and that may well have affected their hearts probably due to the amphetamine! It was mentioned on the Thyroid Secret. I have read the STAR study in full it is the only large scale study of its kind and subjects did not become hyper despite large daily doses of T3. There is some thought that bipolar and schizophrenia may be caused by thyroid disorder possible one as yet not fully understood. The STAR study were unable to explain why subjects did not becomehyoeryhtroid. I am unaware of sny study on heathy individuals that shows taking T3 makes them hyperthyroid. May be the body gets rid of excess via reverse T3 blocking it but I don't kniw. Maybe I can be enlightened by someone on this idea.

  • Maybe those people were T3 resistant as I believe T3 receptors can become blocked when stressed. Have not read the study you mention - sounds interesting - thank you.

  • @Marz

    This is some info about it it is called STAR*D and is well regarded


  • I have a friend who's husband was a bodybuilder.

    He regularly used t3. After their daughter was born my friend gained weight exponentially and became very depressed. He put her onto t3 and in six months she was back to her old self.

  • This is why Kent Holtorf MD calls T3 the best treatment for depression. When used at right dose, depression goes bye-bye and there are no side effects like the tricyclics, SSRIs, etc. from Big Pharma.

    Unfortunately the average American doctor goes the Big Pharma route. Your friend's friend is fortunate to have found an enlightened doc.

  • Our brains contain the mos T3 receptor cells and is the only Active Thyroid Hormone so if someone has hypo in particular they should add T3. We often read of members being prescribed anti-d's probably because they keep complaining they don't feel so good on levo and instead of doctor precribing the addition of T3 they prescribe for the symptom. I just don't understand this, particularly if we are hypo and they rarely test our Free T3 levels which could well be low.

  • In my 20s my thyroid was switched on and responsive, allowing me to feel comfortable in the great outdoors in bad weather conditions. Then I suffered a handful of vertebral compression fractures and went hyper (undiagnosed) half way through the three week hospital stay and for at least 18 months following. Nature doing its job, I guess and, after a long haul, my back is now one of the least of my health concerns :-)

  • Thyroxine also encourages red cell production (haemopoetic) & can make a huge difference to people with haemolytic anaemia & bone marrow failure, bringing them back into normal levels with the help of immunosuppressant drugs - so YES it is very important for overall health. Shame most doctors ignore all these facts. So do some vets, so it's not only us humans that suffer ignorance!

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