PloS one 2018 02 0113(2) e0190738 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0190738
Establishment of the reference interval of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is critical in the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction and is affected by age, gender, iodine nutrition, and ethnicity. The aim of this study was to determine the reference intervals of TSH and free thyroxin (FT4) from a large, nationwide data of Korea where iodine intake is more than adequate.
We analyzed data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey VI that measured serum TSH, FT4, and thyroid peroxidase antibody from 7,061 individuals (urinary iodine measurement in 6,565). Age- and gender-specific reference intervals were established from 95% confidence limits from the 2.5 to 97.5 percentile of TSH (log-transformed) and FT4 in reference populations.
The geometric mean of TSH was 2.16 ± 0.01 mIU/L, with the lowest value found in the middle aged group (2.04 ± 0.02 mIU/L) and higher values noted in age groups of 10-19 and over 70 years (2.38 ± 0.02 and 2.32 ± 0.07 mIU/L, respectively). The association of TSH and age was U-shaped. The overall reference interval of TSH was 0.59-7.03 mIU/L. Mean FT4 was 1.25 ± 0.003 ng/dL (16.09 ± 0.039 pmol/L), and it showed a small but continuous decrease after 20 years of age (P < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between TSH and urine iodine concentration (r = 0.154, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS
The reference interval of TSH in Korea, where iodine intake is above the requirement, was 0.59-7.03 mIU/L and showed U-shaped change with age, which was a similar pattern to iodine intake. The reference interval of FT4 was 0.92-1.60 ng/dL. The geometric mean and upper limit of TSH were higher than those of Western populations, reflecting the paramount importance of iodine intake on thyroid function.