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Physical performance across the thyroid function values within the normal range in adult and older persons

It is the T3 that matters when you are 102!

Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

Physical performance across the thyroid function values within the normal range in adult and older persons


Authors and affiliations

Graziano Ceresini 1

Michela Marina 1

Fulvio Lauretani 2

Marcello Maggio 1

Maria Francesca Serra 1

Tiziana Meschi 2

Stefania Bandinelli 3

Gian Paolo Ceda 1

Luigi Ferrucci 4

1.Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrinology of Aging Unit University Hospital of Parma Parma Italy

2.Critical Care Unit University of Parma Parma Italy

3.Geriatric Unit ASF Toscana Florence Italy

4.National Institute on Aging Baltimore USA

Original Article

First Online: 29 May 2018



Thyroid hormone variation may be correlated with adverse health outcomes, even within the normal reference range in euthyroid individuals.


To determine the association between plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free triiodothyronine (FT3), and free thyroxine (FT4) levels and physical performance score in middle age and older adults who had levels of all three hormones in the normal range.


In this community-based, cross-sectional study, euthyroid participants of the Invecchiare in Chianti study, aged 23–102 years (N = 1060), were considered. Physical performance was evaluated by the Summary Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score. Plasma TSH, FT3, and FT4 levels were predictors, and SPPB score was the outcome.


At the univariate analyses, TSH, FT4, and FT3 were not significantly associated with SPPB score in young individuals, whereas, in older participants, SBBP score was positively (P < 0.001) associated with FT3, and negatively associated with both TSH (P < 0.02) and FT4 (P < 0.001). After adjusting for multiple confounders, FT3 remained significantly associated with SPPB (beta ± SE, 0.35 ± 0.17, P = 0.04), but FT4 and TSH were not. Results did not change when all the three hormones FT3, FT4, and TSH were simultaneously considered in the fully adjusted model (beta ± SE for FT3, 0.37 ± 0.18, P = 0.04).


The results of this study demonstrate that SPPB score is positively associated with circulating FT3 but not with FT4 or with TSH, in older euthyroid individuals.


In euthyroid older adults, circulating FT3 may play an important role in the thyroid effects on physical function.


Thyroid Free triiodothyronine Elderly Mobility

10 Replies

Good to have that confirmed 😊

1 like

Thanks for posting this!

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After researching much info, it’s kinda nice to have my theory somewhat confirmed. Ft3 is what I’ve contributed my asymptomatic status to despite tsh levels at 68!


Also seen in a few places that dementia patients are low in T3 so good to see it's a good thing to take when elderly.


Thanks so much for posting. I am so glad I have been adding a small amount of T3 to my T4, with positive results. Not sure I want to be around at 103, My Dad is 93 and health has seriously declined recently. Not helped by GP surgery not giving his B12 injections since October!!


Are they saying that T3 suddenly becomes significant in old age? If so, when counts as 'old'? Not sure I'm clear on this one.


Thank you for post helvella

Been wondering about this. My hypo symptoms gradually increased as I aged (now 72) until I could barely function Now adding T3 to levo (37.5mcg/ 75mcg) and still titrating - and slowly improving Blood test due next week so we'll see...

Poor conversion ( fairly recently discovered) is an added factor, I'm currently awaiting the results of a thyroid genetic test, probably more for personal interest than anything else!

As far as the elderly are concerned I don't think there is much doubt that poor thyroid function contributes to many so called age-related conditions....yet this is overlooked. I'm beginning to see this in one friend in particular....her anxiety levels have resulted in a visit to a psychiatrist yet nobody seems to have looked at her neck! Time to stick my nose in...

On the other hand, in the 1950s my 90 year old great-uncle still rode his motor's now in a museum!!


What a great research design!

Would be brilliant if patients could have access to some of these performance tests. I'd love to have objective measures of physical ability, and cognitive ability, too!

At the moment I'm stuck with how many steps I can walk, and how much I understand detective shows ;)


There have been that confounding studies which confirm that subclinical hypothyroid has a positive impact on all cause mortality, even to the extent that supercentarians have a high incidence of hypothyroid. Kinda makes sense I suppose, live slow die old!


Like a mole rat 😂🤣😂 best stay underground too!


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