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Open access

Madalena von Hafe, João Sergio Neves, Catarina Vale, Marta Borges-Canha, and Adelino Leite-Moreira

Thyroid hormones have a central role in cardiovascular homeostasis. In myocardium, these hormones stimulate both diastolic myocardial relaxation and systolic myocardial contraction, have a pro-angiogenic effect and an important role in extracellular matrix maintenance. Thyroid hormones modulate cardiac mitochondrial function. Dysfunction of thyroid axis impairs myocardial bioenergetic status. Both overt and subclinical hypothyroidism are associated with a higher incidence of coronary events and an increased risk of heart failure progression. Endothelial function is also impaired in hypothyroid state, with decreased nitric oxide-mediated vascular relaxation. In heart disease, particularly in ischemic heart disease, abnormalities in thyroid hormone levels are common and are an important factor to be considered. In fact, low thyroid hormone levels should be interpreted as a cardiovascular risk factor. Regarding ischemic heart disease, during the late post-myocardial infarction period, thyroid hormones modulate left ventricular structure, function and geometry. Dysfunction of thyroid axis might even be more prevalent in the referred condition since there is an upregulation of type 3 deiodinase in myocardium, producing a state of local cardiac hypothyroidism. In this focused review, we summarize the central pathophysiological and clinical links between altered thyroid function and ischemic heart disease. Finally, we highlight the potential benefits of thyroid hormone supplementation as a therapeutic target in ischemic heart disease.

Open access

Tsuneo Ogawa and Adolfo J de Bold

The concept of the heart as an endocrine organ arises from the observation that the atrial cardiomyocytes in the mammalian heart display a phenotype that is partly that of endocrine cells. Investigations carried out between 1971 and 1983 characterised, by virtue of its natriuretic properties, a polypeptide referred to atrial natriuretic factor (ANF). Another polypeptide isolated from brain in 1988, brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), was subsequently characterised as a second hormone produced by the mammalian heart atria. These peptides were associated with the maintenance of extracellular fluid volume and blood pressure. Later work demonstrated a plethora of other properties for ANF and BNP, now designated cardiac natriuretic peptides (cNPs). In addition to the cNPs, other polypeptide hormones are expressed in the heart that likely act upon the myocardium in a paracrine or autocrine fashion. These include the C-type natriuretic peptide, adrenomedullin, proadrenomedullin N-terminal peptide and endothelin-1. Expression and secretion of ANF and BNP are increased in various cardiovascular pathologies and their levels in blood are used in the diagnosis and prognosis of cardiovascular disease. In addition, therapeutic uses for these peptides or related substances have been found. In all, the discovery of the endocrine heart provided a shift from the classical functional paradigm of the heart that regarded this organ solely as a blood pump to one that regards this organ as self-regulating its workload humorally and that also influences the function of several other organs that control cardiovascular function.

Open access

Hugo R Ramos, Andreas L Birkenfeld, and Adolfo J de Bold

Since their discovery in 1981, the cardiac natriuretic peptides (cNP) atrial natriuretic peptide (also referred to as atrial natriuretic factor) and brain natriuretic peptide have been well characterised in terms of their renal and cardiovascular actions. In addition, it has been shown that cNP plasma levels are strong predictors of cardiovascular events and mortality in populations with no apparent heart disease as well as in patients with established cardiac pathology. cNP secretion from the heart is increased by humoral and mechanical stimuli. The clinical significance of cNP plasma levels has been shown to differ in obese and non-obese subjects. Recent lines of evidence suggest important metabolic effects of the cNP system, which has been shown to activate lipolysis, enhance lipid oxidation and mitochondrial respiration. Clinically, these properties lead to browning of white adipose tissue and to increased muscular oxidative capacity. In human association studies in patients without heart disease higher cNP concentrations were observed in lean, insulin-sensitive subjects. Highly elevated cNP levels are generally observed in patients with systolic heart failure or high blood pressure, while obese and type-2 diabetics display reduced cNP levels. Together, these observations suggest that the cNP system plays a role in the pathophysiology of metabolic vascular disease. Understanding this role should help define novel principles in the treatment of cardiometabolic disease.

Open access

Thera P Links, Trynke van der Boom, Wouter T Zandee, and Joop D Lefrandt

Thyroid hormone stimulates cardiac inotropy and chronotropy via direct genomic and non-genomic mechanisms. Hyperthyroidism magnifies these effects, resulting in an increase in heart rate, ejection fraction and blood volume. Hyperthyroidism also affects thrombogenesis and this may be linked to a probable tendency toward thrombosis in patients with hyperthyroidism. Patients with hyperthyroidism are therefore at higher risk for atrial fibrillation, heart failure and cardiovascular mortality. Similarly, TSH suppressive therapy for differentiated thyroid cancer is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. In this review, we present the latest insights on the cardiac effects of thyroid suppression therapy for the treatment of thyroid cancer. Finally, we will show new clinical data on how to implement this knowledge into the clinical practice of preventive medicine.

Open access

Peter Wolf, Yvonne Winhofer, Martin Krššák, and Michael Krebs

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in general population. Besides well-known risk factors such as hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance and dyslipidemia, growing evidence suggests that hormonal changes in various endocrine diseases also impact the cardiac morphology and function. Recent studies highlight the importance of ectopic intracellular myocardial and pericardial lipid deposition, since even slight changes of these fat depots are associated with alterations in cardiac performance. In this review, we overview the effects of hormones, including insulin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone and cortisol, on heart function, focusing on their impact on myocardial lipid metabolism, cardiac substrate utilization and ectopic lipid deposition, in order to highlight the important role of even subtle hormonal changes for heart function in various endocrine and metabolic diseases.

Open access

M L M Barreto-Chaves, N Senger, M R Fevereiro, A C Parletta, and A P C Takano

The cardiac growth process (hypertrophy) is a crucial phenomenon conserved across a wide array of species and is critically involved in the maintenance of cardiac homeostasis. This process enables an organism to adapt to changes in systemic demand and occurs due to a plethora of responses, depending on the type of signal or stimuli received. The growth of cardiac muscle cells in response to environmental conditions depends on the type, strength and duration of stimuli, and results in adaptive physiological responses or non-adaptive pathological responses. Thyroid hormones (TH) have a direct effect on the heart and induce a cardiac hypertrophy phenotype, which may evolve to heart failure. In this review, we summarize the literature on TH function in the heart by presenting results from experimental studies. We discuss the mechanistic aspects of TH associated with cardiac myocyte hypertrophy, increased cardiac myocyte contractility and electrical remodeling, as well as the associated signaling pathways. In addition to classical crosstalk with the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), emerging work pointing to the new endocrine interaction between TH and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is also explored. Given the inflammatory potential of the angiotensin II peptide, this new interaction may open the door for new therapeutic approaches which target the key mechanisms responsible for TH-induced cardiac hypertrophy.

Open access

Alexander V Amram, Stephen Cutie, and Guo N Huang

Research conducted across phylogeny on cardiac regenerative responses following heart injury implicates endocrine signaling as a pivotal regulator of both cardiomyocyte proliferation and heart regeneration. Three prominently studied endocrine factors are thyroid hormone, vitamin D, and glucocorticoids, which canonically regulate gene expression through their respective nuclear receptors thyroid hormone receptor, vitamin D receptor, and glucocorticoid receptor. The main animal model systems of interest include humans, mice, and zebrafish, which vary in cardiac regenerative responses possibly due to the differential onsets and intensities of endocrine signaling levels throughout their embryonic to postnatal organismal development. Zebrafish and lower vertebrates tend to retain robust cardiac regenerative capacity into adulthood while mice and other higher vertebrates experience greatly diminished cardiac regenerative potential in their initial postnatal period that is sustained throughout adulthood. Here, we review recent progress in understanding how these three endocrine signaling pathways regulate cardiomyocyte proliferation and heart regeneration with a particular focus on the controversial findings that may arise from different assays, cellular-context, age, and species. Further investigating the role of each endocrine nuclear receptor in cardiac regeneration from an evolutionary perspective enables comparative studies between species in hopes of extrapolating the findings to novel therapies for human cardiovascular disease.

Open access

Peter D Mark, Mikkel Andreassen, Claus L Petersen, Andreas Kjaer, and Jens Faber


The aim of this study was to investigate structure and function of the heart in subclinical hyperthyroidism (SH) before and after obtaining euthyroidism by radioactive iodine treatment, using high precision and observer-independent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.


Cardiac MRI was performed before and after euthyroidism was obtained by radioactive iodine treatment in 12 otherwise healthy patients (11 women and one man, mean age 59 years, range 44–71 years) with a nodular goiter and SH, and compared with eight healthy controls investigated at baseline. Cardiac data were expressed as an index, as per body surface area, except for heart rate (HR) and ejection fraction.


Post-treatment cardiac MRI was performed in median 139 days after a normalized serum TSH value had been recorded. During treatment, serum TSH increased from (median (range)) 0.01 (0.01–0.09) to 0.88 (0.27–3.99) mU/l. Patients with untreated SH had increased resting HR (P<0.01) as well as cardiac index (cardiac output as per body surface area) (P<0.01) compared with controls. Obtaining euthyroidism resulted in a significant decrease in left ventricular mass index (LVMI) of 2.7 g/m2 (P=0.034), in HR of 8 bpm (P=0.001), and in cardiac index of 0.24 l/min per m2 (P=0.017).


Normalization of thyroid function by radioactive iodine treatment of SH resulted in significant reductions in clinically important heart parameters such as LVMI, HR, and cardiac index. SH should be regarded as a condition in which aggressive treatment should be considered to protect cardiac function.

Open access

Lasse Oinonen, Antti Tikkakoski, Jenni Koskela, Arttu Eräranta, Mika Kähönen, Onni Niemelä, Jukka Mustonen, and Ilkka Pörsti

Parathyroid hormone has been related with the risk of hypertension, but the matter remains controversial. We examined the association of parathyroid hormone with central blood pressure and its determinants in 622 normotensive or never-treated hypertensive subjects aged 19–72 years without diabetes, cardiovascular or renal disease, or cardiovascular medications. The methods were whole-body impedance cardiography and analyses of pulse wave and heart rate variability. Cardiovascular function was examined in sex-specific tertiles of plasma parathyroid hormone (mean concentrations 3.0, 4.3 and 6.5 pmol/L, respectively) during head-up tilt. Explanatory factors for haemodynamics were further investigated using linear regression analyses. Mean age was 45.0 (s.d. 11.7) years, BMI 26.8 (4.4) kg/m2, seated office blood pressure 141/90 (21/12) mmHg, and 309 subjects (49.7%) were male. Only five participants had elevated plasma parathyroid hormone and calcium concentrations. Highest tertile of parathyroid hormone presented with higher supine and upright aortic diastolic blood pressure (P < 0.01) and augmentation index (P < 0.01), and higher upright systemic vascular resistance (P < 0.05) than the lowest tertile. The tertiles did not present with differences in pulse wave velocity, cardiac output, or measures of heart rate variability. In linear regression analyses, parathyroid hormone was an independent explanatory factor for aortic systolic (P = 0.005) and diastolic (P = 0.002) blood pressure, augmentation index (P = 0.002), and systemic vascular resistance (P = 0.031). To conclude, parathyroid hormone was directly related to central blood pressure, wave reflection, and systemic vascular resistance in subjects without cardiovascular comorbidities and medications. Thus, parathyroid hormone may play a role in the pathophysiology of primary hypertension.

Open access

Ulrik Ø Andersen, Dijana Terzic, Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen, Peter Dall Mark, Peter Plomgaard, Jens F Rehfeld, Finn Gustafsson, and Jens P Goetze


Neprilysin degrades natriuretic peptides in circulation and is also suggested to degrade the gut hormones gastrin and cholecystokinin. Neprilysin inhibition has become a therapeutic strategy and thus a regimen in need of further testing in terms of other hormonal axes besides natriuretic peptides. The aim of this study was to examine whether acute inhibition of neprilysin affects meal-induced responses in gastrin and cholecystokinin concentrations in healthy individuals.

Methods and results

Nine healthy young men were included in an open-labelled, randomized cross-over clinical trial. The participants received a standardized meal (25 g fat, 26 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate) on two separate days with or without a one-time dosage of sacubitril ((194 mg)/valsartan (206 mg)). Blood pressure, heart rate and blood samples were measured and collected during the experiment. Statistical differences between groups were assessed using area under the curve together with an ANOVA with a Bonferroni post hoc test. Sacubitril/valsartan increased the postprandial plasma concentrations of both gastrin and cholecystokinin (80% (AUC0-270 min, P = 0.004) and 60% (AUC0-270 min, P = 0.003), respectively) compared with the control meal. No significant hemodynamic effects were noted (blood pressure, AUC0-270 min, P = 0.86, heart rate, AUC0-270 min, P = 0.96).


Our study demonstrates that sacubitril/valsartan increases the postprandial plasma concentrations of gastrin and cholecystokinin in healthy individuals. The results thus suggest that neprilysin-mediated degradation of gastrin and cholecystokinin is physiologically relevant and may have a role in heart failure patients treated with sacubitril/valsartan.