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Over the past few decades, obesity and its related metabolic disorders have increased at an epidemic rate in the developed and developing world. New signals and factors involved in the modulation of energy balance and metabolism are continuously being discovered, providing potential novel drug targets for the treatment of metabolic disease. A parallel strategy is to better understand how hormonal signals, with an already established role in energy metabolism, work, and how manipulation of the pathways involved may lead to amelioration of metabolic dysfunction. The thyroid hormones belong to the latter category, with dysregulation of the thyroid axis leading to marked alterations in energy balance. The potential of thyroid hormones in the treatment of obesity has been known for decades, but their therapeutic use has been hampered because of side-effects. Data gleaned over the past few years, however, have uncovered new features at the mechanisms of action involved in thyroid hormones. Sophisticated neurobiological approaches have allowed the identification of specific energy sensors, such as AMP-activated protein kinase and mechanistic target of rapamycin, acting in specific groups of hypothalamic neurons, mediating many of the effects of thyroid hormones on food intake, energy expenditure, glucose, lipid metabolism, and cardiovascular function. More extensive knowledge about these molecular mechanisms will be of great relevance for the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Original publication




Journal article


Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab

Publication Date





703 - 712


AMPK, central nervous system, energy balance, glucose homeostasis, hypothalamus, lipid metabolism, mTOR, thyroid hormones, AMP-Activated Protein Kinases, Animals, Energy Metabolism, Homeostasis, Humans, Hypothalamus, Lipid Metabolism, Obesity, Signal Transduction, TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases, Thyroid Hormones