12 CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY
12.1 Mechanism of Action
Thyroid hormones exert their physiologic actions through control of DNA transcription and protein synthesis. Triiodothyronine (T3) and L-thyroxine (T4) diffuse into the cell nucleus and bind to thyroid receptor proteins attached to DNA. This hormone nuclear receptor complex activates gene transcription and synthesis of messenger RNA and cytoplasmic proteins.
The physiological actions of thyroid hormones are produced predominantly by T3, the majority of which (approximately 80%) is derived from T4 by deiodination in peripheral tissues.
The onset of activity of liothyronine sodium occurs within a few hours. Maximum pharmacologic response occurs within 2 or 3 days.
T3 is almost totally absorbed, 95 percent in 4 hours. The hormones contained in the natural preparations are absorbed in a manner similar to the synthetic hormones.
Liothyronine sodium (T3) is not firmly bound to serum protein. The higher affinity of levothyroxine (T4) for both thyroid-binding globulin and thyroid-binding prealbumin as compared to triiodothyronine (T3) partially explains the higher serum levels and longer half-life of the former hormone. Both protein-bound hormones exist in reverse equilibrium with minute amounts of free hormone, the latter accounting for the metabolic activity.
The major pathway of thyroid hormone metabolism is through sequential deiodination. Approximately 80% of circulating T3 is derived from peripheral T4 by monodeiodination. The liver is the major site of degradation for both T4 and T3. T3 is further deiodinated to diiodothyronine. Thyroid hormones are also metabolized via conjugation with glucuronides and sulfates and excreted directly into the bile and gut where they undergo enterohepatic recirculation.