New ATA recommendations target thyroid study design, standardization

The American Thyroid Association Task Force has released 70 new recommendations for standardizing studies regarding thyroid hormone economy and action. The recommendations were compiled based on the lack of standardization that has led to the heterogeneity of results in thyroid research, according to the task force.

“This is an outstanding and comprehensive guide for translational and basic research scientists that has filled an important gap in our thyroid research field,” Bryan R. Haugen, MD, ATA President and professor of medicine and pathology; head of the division of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes; Mark Kern and Jerome H. Kern Chair in endocrine neoplasm research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a press release. “Dr. Bianco and the entire taskforce are to be commended for developing this authoritative and extremely useful reference.”

Bryan R. Haugen, MD 

Bryan R. Haugen

Recommendations in this extensive document address:

  • Assessment of the thyroid gland;
  • Assessment of circulating and tissue thyroid hormone levels;
  • Assessment of thyroid hormone transport into cells;
  • Assessment of thyroid hormone metabolism;
  • Inducement of hypothyroidism and thyroid hormone replacement;
  • Increasing thyroid hormone signaling;
  • Iodine deficiency and maternal-fetal transfer of thyroid hormone;
  • Models of non-thyroidal illness;
  • Assessment of thyroid hormone signaling at tissue and cellular levels; and
  • Assessment of thyroid hormone signaling by way of systemic biological parameters.

“This is a unique compilation of detailed recommendations for performing experiments focusing on the pathophysiology of the thyroid using cell and animal models. It will guide numerous researchers how to best conduct these experiments and will lead to more standardized approaches in many laboratories worldwide,” Peter A. Kopp, MD, editor-in-chief of Thyroid and associate professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism and molecular medicine, and interim director for the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in the press release.

For more information:

Bianco AC. Thyroid. 2013;doi:10.1089/thy.2013.0109.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

Gregory A. Brent, MD

Gregory A. Brent

  • This report of the ATA task force on approaches and strategies to investigate thyroid hormone economy and action provides an important and unique resource for thyroid investigators and should impact clinical care. There are significant differences between humans and rodents in thyroid hormone measurements, metabolism and action. These differences have made it a challenge to accurately model human thyroid diseases utilizing rodent and cellular models. These recommendations, by an international panel of experts, assess and synthesize methods described in more than 750 references. The report does not provide details for each method, but discusses the best approach or strategy, limitations of the approach, and, when relevant, how this approach in cell or rodent models contrasts with human physiology. The report is comprehensive, up-to-date, covers all areas of basic thyroid investigation, and is organized in an easily accessible format. The underlying mechanism of a wide range of thyroid disorders in humans are being identified at a rapid pace, and cellular and rodent models are central to understanding these disorders. This resource will promote more uniform and consistent studies in these models and better clinical application of the results.

    • Gregory A. Brent, MD
    • Professor of Medicine and Physiology
      David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Disclosures: Brent reports no relevant financial disclosures.