In the thyroid T3 hormones are one type of hormone that is produced by the gland to assist and regulate various body functions. T3, or triiodothyonine, is a hormone that is present in two separate forms. Regular T3 is bound to proteins within the blood while free T3 is not attached to any specific protein or other substance. In this manner it is similar to the other main hormone of the thyroid, T4. Most of the T4 within the bloodstream is attached to blood proteins, but a small percentage is left unbound.
Functions of the thyroid gland are not completely understood, but endocrinology researchers are currently examining how individual hormones affect the general function of the body. Some T3 thyroid function aspects may include regulating serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. In addition, thyroid T3 T4 and other hormones are used to stimulate and regulate a person’s metabolism. The T3 hormone is considered to be more metabolically active than T4.
Certain medical conditions have been proven to be linked to excessive or lowered thyroid hormone levels. One such problem related to hormone levels is clinical depression. As the hormone T3 is found in brain synapse junctions, it is understood that serotonin and other brain chemicals are affected by the levels of T3. The most common problems associated with abnormal T3 production is hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The first, hyperthyroidism, is when excessive levels of thyroid hormones are being produced. This may be caused by deeper conditions such as Graves’ disease, toxic thyroid adenoma, or toxic multinodular goiter. Hypothyroidism is the exact opposite, with chronically reduced levels of thyroid hormones. When related to a disease, the most common cause is known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
While the relationship between T3 and T4 is not completely known, it is thought that both hormones work in tandem to regulate the body’s metabolism. In turn, they are regulated by another hormone known as thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH. It exists in a feedback loop with the brain. When the brain perceives a lowered T3 or T4 level, more TSH is produced to stimulate the thyroid to produce more of these hormones. The opposite is true as well. A high level of thyroid hormones causes a reduction in the amount of TSH being produced. This cycle is how the body controls thyroid hormone regulation. In certain cases, patients have thyroid antibodies that disrupt the normal pattern of TSH regulation and the patient’s hormone levels alternate between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Because of this constant fluctuation, no accurate readings of thyroid hormone levels can be obtained and treatment can be very difficult.
The T3 hormone has recently found a use in treating depression. Studies have shown that patients with depression who are receiving T3 supplements have reported an improvement in the condition. This result is more common with women than man, but it may help researchers further ascertain the role of thyroid hormones in how brain chemicals are produced and regulated. As more is learned about thyroid T3 hormones, it is estimated that more uses will be discovered for T3 supplements.
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