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Body dimensions and thyroid hormone levels in premenopausal and postmenopausal women from Austria.

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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 94:487497 (1994)
Body Dimensions and Thyroid Hormone Levels in
Premenopausal and Postmenopausal Women From Austria
SYLVIA KIRCHENGAST
Institute for Human Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrapa 14,
A-1030 Wien, Vienna,Austria
KEY WORDS
Premenopausal, Postmenopausal, Women, Anthropometric characters, Thyroid hormones
ABSTRACT
Correlations between thyroid hormone levels and body dimensions were investigated in a group of 124 premenopausal (ages 16-40
years) and 142 postmenopausal (ages 38-61 years) women from Vienna, Austria. Twenty-nine absolute body dimensions and thirteen anthropometric indices were correlated with the serum levels of thyroxine, triiodothyronine,
thyroid-stimulating hormone, and thyroid-hormone-binding globulin as well
as three hormone ratios (T3/T4, T4/TSH, T3/TSH). All hormones exhibited
statistically significant correlations with 24 anthropometric variables and 11
indices. The correlations between thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels and
the body measurements were predominantly positive in both proband groups.
Higher thyroid hormone levels were associated positively with body dimensions, especially with the amount of subcutaneous fat tissue, in adult females
independently of their menstrual status. The direction of the correlations
between thyroid-stimulating hormone and body measures as well as anthropometric indices differed between the premenopausal and the postmenopausal women. While in premenopausal women mainly positive correlations
between anthropometric characters and the level of thyroid stimulating hormone occur, in postmenopausal women most of these correlations are negative. This is probably due to the decrease of thyroid-stimulating hormone
levels with increasing age, as well as with changes in body shape during the
climacteric and after the menopause. 0 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Secretion of the thyroid hormones is influenced predominantly by the state of nutrition (Tulp et al., 1977, 1979; Hendler and
Bonde, 1988; Kiyohara et al., 1989). It shows
seasonal fluctuations (Smals et al., 1977;
McLellan et al., 1979; Poldenak, 1983) and
varies with age (Lipson et al., 1979; Poldenak, 1983). An interaction between sexual
hormone levels (especially of estradiol) and
thyroid hormone concentrations has also
been reported (Dowling et al., 1960;
Sanchez-Franc0 et al., 1973; Southern et al.,
1974; Glinoer et al., 1977; Bottiglioni et al.,
1983). In the climacteric, and particularly
after the menopause, there are marked
changes of the concentrations of the sexual
hormones (above all of estrogen and gonadotropin levels), which influence the secre0 1994 WILEY-LISS, INC.
tion of the thyroid hormones (Bottiglioni et
al., 1983; Abdalla et al., 1987).
Myxodema, cretinism, Graves' disease,
and other clinical syndromes have long been
recognized as effects of disturbances of the
secretion of thyroid hormones on growth,
body size, and morphological traits (Teppermann, 1972). More recently the effects of
variation in thyroid hormone levels within
physiologically normal limits on body build
have been studied (Bray et al., 1976; Tanner, 1977; Poldenak, 1983; Raschka, 1991).
Tanner (1977) posited a relation between a
Received November 25,1992;accepted February 20,1994
Address reprint requests to Sylvia Kirchengast, JohannStrauBgasse20, A-3400 Klosterneuburg,Austria
488
S. KIRCHENGAST
high secretion rate of thyroid hormones and
the development of a leptosomatic (light and
thin) body type. Bray et al. (1976) described
a positive correlation between body weight
and serum concentrations of triiodothyronine, although it was not statistically significant. Thyroxine levels have also been found
not to differ significantly between prepubertal girls of normal weight and obese girls of
the same age class (Genazzani et al., 1978).
Polednak (1983) observed positive, but
again not significant, correlations between
stature and serum levels of thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and thyroid-hormone-binding globulin. Significantly negative correlations occurred between body weight,
Quetelet index (staturehody weight), and
triiodothyronine concentrations. The same
study yielded significantly negative correlations between body weight, Quetelet index,
and thyroid-hormone-binding globulin.
In all the investigations mentioned above,
only body weight, stature, and the ratio of
body weight to stature were related to levels
of the thyroid hormones. The relation between thyroid hormones and a larger set of
anthropometric variables has until now
been examined only by Raschka (1991). He
found positive correlations between thyroxine levels and head measures, and-with female probands-positive correlations between thyroxine levels and measures
describing the distribution of subcutaneous
fat. With male probands, Raschka found
negative correlations between triiodothyronine concentrations and measures of body
fat; with female probands, no uniform trend
was demonstrated. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations correlated positively and significantly with measures of the
head and the size of hands and feet among
females and with nearly all projective height
measures among male probands. Unfortunately, Raschka’s sample was small, comprising only 18 women.
The studies mentioned above yielded two
different association patterns between body
type and thyroid hormone levels. Some studies (Tanner, 1977; Poldenak, 1983) reported
a marked relationship between higher thyroid hormone levels and a more leptosomatic
type of body build. Others (Bray et al., 1976;
Raschka, 1991) found that thyroid hormone
levels, especially the concentrations of triiodothyronine, are positively correlated with
body weight, the amount of subcutaneous
fat tissue, and the Quetelet index-particularly in female samples. The present study
was undertaken to determine whether either of these association patterns or alternative hypotheses obtains for the Austrian
sample in question when menstrual and
menopausal status are controlled for and a
larger number of anthropometric variables
are measured.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Subjects
The data for the present study were collected from 266 female probands originating
from Vienna or Lower Austria in the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna from February to October 1990. The whole sample could
be divided into two groups. Group 1 comprised 142 postmenopausal women from
38-61 years of age (X = 50.81, whose menopause had occurred spontaneous at least 1
year before the time of investigation. None
of these women received any estrogen replacement therapy before or during the
study. Group 2 comprised 124 women from
16-40 years of age (x = 27.8), who were fertile with regular menstrual cycles. None of
these women were pregnant or on any hormone therapy, hormonal contraception, or
any other medication within the 3 months
before the time of blood drawing. All
probands of both proband groups were medically examined before the actual investigation in order to include only healthy females
with intact ovaries, uterus, adrenals, and
thyroid gland, and a normal function of the
hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis in the
present sample. All women were of comparable nutritional status. They consulted the
outpatient clinic exclusively for control
checkups. In the first proband group these
control checkups were carried out for osteoporosis prophylaxis only and showed a
lack of osteoporosis in all probands participating in this study. The premenopausal
women consulted the outpatient clinic for
medical advice concerning the use of hormonal contraceptives only. The probands of
the present study can be regarded as ade-
FEMALE BODY SHAPE AND THYROID HORMONES
quately representative of the healthy preand postmenopausal women of Eastern Austria.
Anthropometric variables
From each proband, 29 head and body
measurements were taken, following
Knussmann (1988) (numbers in parentheses correspond to the numbers in Knussmann): maximum head length (11, maximum head breadth (3),bizygomatic breadth
(6), bigonial breadth (8), mouth breadth
(14), morphological facial height (18), nasion-stomion height (19), labial height (25);
stature (l), chin height (3/1), acromial
height (8), dactylion height (111, span (171,
sitting height (231, biacromial breadth (351,
chest breadth (36),waist breadth (39),pelvic
breadth (40), projectivic arm length (45a),
physiognomic leg length (53/4), bicondylar
breadth (59d), chest girth (61), waist girth
(62), hip girth (64/1), upper arm circumference relaxed (65), upper arm circumference
flexed (65/1), hand circumference (67/2),
thigh circumference (68), and body weight
(71).
On the basis of these measurements, the
following indices were computed according
to the definitions in Knussmann (1988):
scelic index (53(4)/23),acromio-cristal index
(40/35),acromico-chest index (36/35), bicristal index (40/1), chest index (36111, bicondylar index (59d/l), hip index ([64(1)-62]/62),
waist index (64(1)/62), hand circumference
index (67(2)/1),body mass index (71/12),index of corpulence (71/13),Quetelet index (71/
l), and upper arm muscle index (65(1)-65).
For a more detailed description of the anthropometric variables, see Kirchengast
(1993a,b).
Hormone assays
The blood samples were collected at the
hormone outpatient clinic of the I. Universitatsfrauenklinik from 7:30 to 10:30 AM.
Blood was drawn from the fertile probands
between the eighth and tenth day of the
menstrual cycle (i.e., during the follicle
phase before ovulation).
The quantitative determination of the
thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4),triiodothyronine (T3), thyroid-stimulating hormone
(TSH), and the protein thyroid-hormone-
489
binding globulin was made at the hormone
laboratory of the I. Universitatsfrauenklinik
in Vienna using the Enzymimmunassay
(Boehringer Mannheim Enzymimmun, Germany) method.
In addition to the determination of serum
concentrations of the individual hormones,
three ratios of the individual hormone values were calculated (T3PT4, T4/"SH, T3/
TSH).
Statistical analysis
Statistical evaluation of the data was carried out using the SPSSX program (Schubo
and Uehlinger, 1986). Since the Kolmogoroff-Smirnov test showed that no normal distribution could be assumed for several anthropometric traits and all hormone levels,
nearly exclusively non-parametric procedures were applied in analyzing the data.
The relation between anthropometric variables and the hormone levels was described
by the Spearman rank-correlation coefficient. Mann-Whitney tests were performed
as well in order to test for statistical significance in intergroup differences in anthropometric variables, absolute hormone values,
and hormone ratios. In order to eliminate
the influence of seasonal fluctuations of thyroid hormone secretion, partial correlations
(date of blood collecting = constant) were
computed. Since these results of the partial
correlations resembled strongly the results
of the Spearman correlations, only the correlation coefficients of the Spearman correlations are listed in Tables 4 and 5.
Factor analyses (principal-components
methods) of all 29 metric variables were
computed separately for each of the two
samples. After varimax rotation, individual
factor scores were determined and then correlated with hormone variables.
RESULTS
Anthropometric variables
For 23 of the 29 measures, as well as for 12
of the 13 indices, significant differences
were found between the two groups studied.
The premenopausal women surpassed the
postmenopausal women in all height and
length measures, while the postmenopausal
probands surpassed the premenopausal in
490
S. KIRCHENGAST
TABLE 1 . Loadings and eigenvalues of the six anthropometric factors after uarimux rotation in premenopausal women
Variable
Maximum head length
Maximum head breadth
Bizygomatic breadth
Bigonial breadth
Mouth breadth
Morphological face height
Nasion-stomionheight
Labial height
Stature
Chin height
Acromial height
Dactylion height
Span
Sitting height
Biacromial breadth
Chest breadth
Waist breadth
Pelvic breadth
Projectivic arm length
Physiognomic leg length
Bicondylar breadth
Chest girth
Wasit girth
Hip girth
Upper arm circumference relaxed
Upper arm circumference flexed
Hand circumference
Thigh circumference
Body weight
EiEenvalue
F1
F2
F3
F4
F5
F6
0.13
0.21
0.28
0.46
0.22
0.09
0.07
-0.06
0.08
0.07
0.11
0.19
0.05
0.18
0.49
0.78
0.81
0.79
-0.03
-0.01
0.73
0.91
0.89
0.91
0.92
0.91
0.33
0.86
0.92
10.70
0.10
-0.06
0.06
0.14
0.13
0.23
0.19
0.07
0.97
0.97
0.97
0.70
0.87
0.76
0.44
0.19
0.07
0.23
0.81
0.90
0.03
0.05
0.09
0.07
-0.02
-0.02
0.49
-0.08
0.26
6.03
-0.14
0.68
0.74
0.57
0.54
0.19
0.17
-0.24
0.04
0.03
0.04
-0.03
0.06
0.06
0.20
0.17
0.18
0.20
0.08
0.02
0.12
0.09
0.12
0.09
0.04
0.05
0.39
-0.01
0.14
1.90
0.15
0.22
0.15
0.04
0.03
0.81
0.84
0.56
0.08
0.04
0.09
0.03
0.16
0.05
0.12
-0.09
-0.04
0.04
0.12
0.09
0.14
-0.06
0.04
0.08
0.02
0.01
0.01
0.15
0.04
1.62
0.85
-0.11
-0.29
0.02
0.01
0.19
0.13
-0.37
0.03
-0.01
0.01
-0.05
0.06
0.03
0.15
0.15
0.04
0.01
0.06
0.02
0.11
0.09
0.02
0.03
-0.06
-0.07
0.11
-0.04
0.03
1.09
-0.02
0.06
-0.20
-0.13
0.01
0.07
-0.01
-0.09
0.13
0.11
0.13
0.51
-0.23
0.37
-0.19
-0.13
-0.17
0.19
-0.29
-0.09
0.28
-0.12
-0.05
0.24
-0.05
-0.10
-0.08
0.26
0.09
1.06
ings (0.49-0.92) were found for breadth and
circumference dimensions and body weight.
The second factor (eigenvalues 5.02-6.02)
can be interpreted as the postcranial lengthheight factor. The highest loadings (0.750.97) were found for length and height dimensions. The third factor (eigenvalues
1.73-1.90) differs between the two groups.
In the premenopausal probands, this factor
can be described as a facial-breadth factor,
and the highest loadings (0.61-0.74)refer to
facial-breadth dimensions. In the postmenopausal probands, factor 3 can be identified
Factor analyses
as a second postcranial length-height factor.
The factor analyses computed separately The highest loadings were found for sitting
for each of the two samples on the basis of all height (0.70) and dactylion height (0.85).
metric variables yielded six factors with an The fourth factor (eigenvalue 1.60-1.62) is a
eigenvalue above 1.0. The first two factors facial-height factor in both proband groups.
and the fourth factor resembled each other Factor 4 has high loadings (0.44-0.86) for
in both samples with regard to the variables the facial height measurements. The fifth
showing the highest loadings. Differences factor (eigenvalues 1.09-1.44) is a pure
head-length factor in the premenopausal
occured in factors 3,5, and 6 (Tables 1,2).
The first factor (eigenvalues 10.58-10.70) probands, because only the head length
can be described as the postcranial breadth- showed a higher loading (0.84). In postcircumference-weight factor. Highest load- menopausal probands, factor 5 can be inter-
all breadth and circumference measures
with the exception of biacromial breadth. All
the computed indices, with the exception of
the Scelic index, differed significantly between the two groups. Postmenopausal
women showed significantly higher values
in all those indices describing breadths and
circumferences as well as body weight in relation to stature height. The premenopausal
probands exhibited higher values than the
postmenopausal women for only 2 of the 13
indices (hip index, muscle index).
FEMALE BODY SHAPE AND THYROID HORMONES
TABLE 2. Loadings and eigenvalues
Variable
Maximum head length
Maximum head breadth
Bizygomatic breadth
Bigonial breadth
Mouth breadth
Morphological face height
Nasion-stomion height
Labial height
Stature
Chin height
Acromial height
Dactylion height
Span
Sitting height
Biacromial breadth
Chest breadth
Waist breadth
Pelvic breadth
Projectivic arm length
Physiognomic leg length
Bicondylar breadth
Chest girth
Waist girth
Hip girth
Upper arm circumference relaxed
Upper arm Circumference flexed
Hand circumference
Thigh circumference
Body weight
Eigenvalue
of
49 1
the six anthropometric factors after uarimax rotation in postmenopausal women
F1
F2
F3
F4
F5
F6
-0.01
0.06
0.32
0.43
0.16
0.01
-0.02
-0.08
0.09
0.13
0.14
0.20
0.17
0.09
0.52
0.81
0.87
0.83
0.02
0.06
0.59
0.91
0.90
0.91
0.87
0.87
0.25
0.72
0.89
10.59
0.14
0.10
0.12
0.04
0.03
0.15
0.21
-0.02
0.78
0.78
0.75
0.19
0.83
0.39
0.50
0.07
0.13
0.17
0.89
0.83
0.07
0.04
0.07
0.10
0.04
0.02
0.42
0.03
0.19
5.03
0.11
0.18
-0.02
-0.02
-0.01
0.10
0.06
0.13
0.58
0.57
0.59
0.85
0.18
0.,71
-0.07
-0.01
-0.02
0.16
-0.07
0.19
0.36
-0.09
-0.07
0.21
0.12
0.11
-0.09
0.37
0.21
1.74
0.10
0.04
0.07
0.27
-0.11
0.87
0.86
0.44
0.15
0.11
0.08
0.07
0.13
0.18
0.61
0.09
0.29
0.39
0.72
0.08
-0.06
0.12
0.09
0.07
0.02
0.05
0.19
-0.01
-0.00
-0.08
-0.05
0.03
-0.02
0.15
0.33
0.01
-0.06
0.09
0.28
0.29
0.46
0.26
0.19
1.44
0.13
0.81
0.64
0.27
-0.01
0.04
0.04
-0.45
0.04
0.03
0.08
0.01
0.10
0.11
0.10
0.10
0.23
0.16
0.13
-0.06
0.02
0.07
0.19
0.09
-0.13
-0.09
0.11
-0.11
0.08
1.18
preted as a head-length, facial-breadth factor, with higher loadings for the head length
(0.60) and the mouth breadth (0.71). The
sixth factor (eigenvalues 1.05-1.181, a headfacial-breadth factor, showed higher loadings only in the postmenopausal proband
group (0.64-0.81) (Tables 1,2).
Thyroid hormone levels
The Mann-Whitney test of the individual
hormone concentrations and of the hormone
ratios yielded statistically significant differences between the two groups of probands
only for TSH and for the hormone ratios T41
TSH and T3PTSH. Premenopausal women
showed the higher concentrations of TSH.
With regard to the two significantly different hormone ratios, the values of the postmenopausal women surpassed those of the
premenopausal in both cases.
The serum concentrations of thyroxine
(T4) and triiodthyronine (T3) of the postmenopausal women were slightly but not
significantly higher than those of the pre-
0.21
0.05
-0.01
0.05
0.06
0.03
-0.09
0.00
-0.04
-0.05
0.02
0.00
0.16
-0.07
-0.01
1.60
TABLE 3. Mean (x), standard deviations (SO/, and
medians ( M ) of thyroid gland hormone levels and
hormone ratios
n
SD
M
Thyroxine (T4) (ng/ml)
Premenopausal 124 85.5
20.5 81.8
Postmenopausal 142 85.9
19.2 82.3
Trijodthyronine (T3) (ng/ml)
Premenopausal 104
1.2
0.3
1.2
Postmenopausal 131
1.3
0.8
1.3
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) (MCU/ml)
Premenopausal
98
2.2
2.2
1.7
Postmenopausal 101
1.4
0.9
1.1
Thyroxine binding globulin (TBG) (NMOU)
Premenopausal
68 21.1
3.7 21.0
Postmenopausal 87 20.6
6.6 20.0
T3m4
Premenopausal 104
0.01
0.00 0.01
Postmenopausal 131
0.02
0.01 0.01
T4I"SH
Premenopausal
95 67.4 109.8 47.2
Postmenopausal 101 122.4 184.5 74.8
T3fI'SH
Premenopausal
97
0.9
1.0
0.7
Postmenopausal 101
2.2
3.1
1.1
'Mann-Whitney tests.
**Level ofsignificance: P < 0.01.
***Level of significance: P c 0.001.
Z-value'
-0.71
-0.46
-4.31***
-0.85
-0.94
-4.34***
-3.35**
492
S. KIRCHENGAST
menopausal probands. This is also true for
the ratio T3/T4. The concentration of the
thyroid-hormone-binding globulin showed
higher but not statistically significant values in the premenopausal women (Table 3).
Correlations between hormone levels and
anthropometric traits
Premenopausal probands
Postmenopausal probands
Fewer significant correlations were found
between thyroid hormone levels and the individual anthropometric variables for postmenopausal than for premenopausal women
(Tables 4, 5). Moreover, the direction of the
correlations differs between the two groups.
In both groups, T4 and T3 correlated predominantly positively with the absolute
measurements. TSH correlated nearly always negatively with all anthropometric
variables in postmenopausal women. The
serum concentration of thyroxine (T4) correlated significantly and positively with bicondylar breadth but significantly negatively
with the muscle index. Triiodothyronine
(T3) correlated significantly and positively
with head breadth, chest breadth, waist
breadth, chest girth and body weight. Serum
concentrations of TSH showed only four significantly negative correlations, namely
with arm span, projectivic arm length, bicondylar index, and bicondylar breadth.
TBG correlated significantly and negatively
with the mouth breadth, the hand circumference index and the muscle index, significantly and positively with the head length,
the labial height, the length-height factor,
nasion-stomion height, and the facial-height
factor. Numerous significant correlations
occurred with the ratio T3/T4: cranial and
postcranial measures of robustness correlated significantly and negatively. The ratio
T4/TSH, on the contrary, showed significantly positive correlations with the cranial
and postcranial measures of robustness and
length and height. Several significantly positive correlations were observed between the
ratio T3/TSH and the postcranial height and
breadth measures (Table 5).
In the premenopausal group, numerous
statistically significant correlations were
found between anthropometric variables
and hormone concentrations. Thyroxine
(T4) correlated positively with all cranial
and postcranial measures except four (morphological facial height, labial height, upper
arm circumference flexed, and hand circumference), but the correlations were significant only for head breadth, sitting height,
pelvic breadth, bicondylar breadth, and hip
girth. The only indices significantly correlated with T4 levels were those describing
the distribution of subcutaneous fat and robustness.
Like thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3)
and thyroid stimulating hormone correlated
positively with most of the absolute measurements but negatively with many of the
indices. Only the height measures of the
face, arm span, and cranial and robustness
indices correlated significantly with T4.
Height measures of the face, stature, leg
length, and waist breadth, as well as those
indices describing the distribution of subcutaneous fat, showed significant and positive
correlations with TSH. Thyroid-hormonebinding globulin correlated negatively with
the cranial and postcranial height measures
and positively with breadths and circumferences and the related indices; however, the
only significant correlations were with measures of postcranial height and robustness.
DISCUSSION
With regard to the three hormone ratios,
Bone growth, fat distribution, and body
almost exclusively negative correlations
were obtained with the absolute measure- type are determined mainly by three groups
ments, while the robustness and circumfer- of hormones: the growth hormone (in combience indices correlated mainly positively nation with the growth factors), the sexual
with T4/TSH and T3PTSH. Statistically sig- hormones, and the thyroid hormones. Significant correlations with the height dimen- nificant correlations between the serum
sions of the face were found as well as with concentrations of the sex hormones and ansome indices describing the distribution of thropometric variables describing body
shape and proportion have been reported for
subcutaneous fat (Table 4).
FEMALE BODY SHAPE AND THYROID HORMONES
493
TABLE 4. Spearman rank correlation coefficients of thyroid hormone levels and hormone ratios with anthropometric
variables in premenopausal women
Anthropometric character
Maximum head length
Maximum head breadth
Bizygomatic breadth
Bigonial breadth
Mouth breadth
Morphological facial height
Nasion-stomion height
Labial height
Stature
Chin height
Acromial height
Dactylion height
Span
Sitting height
Biacromial breadth
Chest breadth
Waist breadth
Pelvic breadth
Projectivic arm length
Physiognomic leg length
Bicondylar breadth
Chest girth
Waist girth
Hip girth
Upper arm circumference relaxed
Upper arm circumference flexed
Hand circumference
Thigh circumference
Body weight
Acromio-chest index
Acromio-cristal index
Chest index
Bicristal index
Scelic index
Bicondylar index
Hip index
Waist index
Hand circumference index
Body mass index
Index of corpulance
Quetelet index
Muscle index (upper arm)
F1: Breadth-circumference factor
F2: Length-height factor
F3: Facial breadth factor
F 4 Facial height factor
F5: Head length factor
T4
T3
TSH
TBG
T3m4
T4PTSH
T3RSH
0.06
0.16*
0.06
0.09
0.04
-0.02
0.09
-0.12
0.07
0.09
0.07
0.08
0.07
0.19*
0.07
0.08
0.07
0.18*
0.12
0.03
0.29"**
0.09
0.20*
0.20*
0.02
-0.02
-0.08
0.05
0.01
0.01
0.18*
0.01
0.18*
-0.14
0.22*
-0.02
-0.07
-0.19*
0.09
0.09
0.12
-0.10
0.01
0.03
0.08
0.02
0.04
-0.18*
0.01
0.11
0.06
-0.02
0.14
0.22*
0.27***
0.13
0.13
0.08
0.02
0.19*
0.15
0.08
-0.12
0.02
0.09
0.11
0.09
0.11
-0.05
0.06
0.05
-0.05
-0.02
-0.01
0.05
0.09
-0.22**
0.04
-0.22
-0.01
0.01
-0.01
-0.01
-0.01
-0.25***
-0.03
-0.07
0.04
0.15
0.01
0.11
0.01
0.23**
-0.26***
0.03
0.16*
-0.08
-0.09
-0.09
0.27**
0.18*
-0.16*
0.19*
0.14
0.15
0.01
0.12
0.12
0.12
-0.02
0.17*
-0.02
0.17*
0.19"
0.05
0.14
0.12
0.02
0.13
0.13
-0.12
0.08
0.07
-0.09
-0.07
-0.09
-0.12
0.13
-0.03
-0.19*
0.22**
-0.11
0.02
-0.03
0.05
-0.16*
0.07
0.13
-0.04
0.17"
-0.02
0.06
0.02
-0.03
0.13
0.15
-0.14
0.06
0.03
-0.19*
-0.19*
-0.20**
-0.28**
-0.05
-0.03
-0.20*
0.01
0.04
0.13
-0.03
-0.24**
0.28***
0.12
0.08
0.16*
0.08
0.09
0.05
0.24**
0.03
0.18*
0.32***
0.09
0.24"*
-0.23**
0.34***
0.21**
-0.12
0.05
0.13
0.16*
0.08
0.10
0.12
-0.21*
-0.04
0.06
0.03
-0.24**
-0.09
0.04
-0.04
-0.08
0.08
0.09
0.34***
0.03
0.06
0.02
-0.09
0.08
-0.04
0.02
-0.18*
0.03
-0.05
0.05
0.04
-0.08
0.14
0.15
0.17*
-0.25**
-0.19*
0.08
-0.12
-0.08
-0.11
0.01
-0.06
-0.01
-0.03
0.06
-0.15
0.08
-0.12
-0.14
0.09
0.03
-0.05
0.06
-0.09
-0.07
-0.02
-0.01
-0.03
0.06
0.09
0.08
0.17"
-O.18*
0.11
0.18*
-0.29***
0.01
0.01
0.01
-0.01
0.20*
-0.02
-0.09
0.12
-0.18*
0.06
-0.11
-0.11
0.22**
0.17*
0.18*
-0.21**
-0.17*
0.29***
-0.12
-0.09
-0.14
0.01
-0.09
-0.06
-0.06
0.02
-0.14
0.08
-0.17*
-0.14
0.08
0.02
-0.08
0.03
-0.10
-0.06
-0.04
-0.09
-0.03
0.04
0.12
0.03
0.11
-0.10
0.08
0.18*
-0.24**
0.02
-0.07
0.02
-0.02
0.23**
-0.05
-0.12
0.16*
-0.12
-0.11
0.08
-0.06
-0.12
-0.09
-0.06
-0.02
-0.01
-0.01
-0.05
-0.02
-0.21**
-0.07
-0.17*
-0.06
0.12
-0.06
0.06
0.09
-0.03
-0.07
-0.09
-0.06
0.09
0.05
0.01
0.16*
-0.17*
0.27***
*Probability of error: P < 0.05.
**Probability of error: P < 0.01.
***Probability of error: P < 0.001.
males (Knussmann et al., 1986; Knussmann tion, correlations between thyroid hormone
and Spenvien, 1988; Christiansen and levels and both body dimensions and body
Winkler, 1990; Raschka, 1991; Winkler and proportions in premenopausal and postChristiansen, 1991) as well as for females menopausal women were shown for the first
(Raschka, 1991; Daniel et al., 1992; Kirch- time in an adequately large sample. The
engast, 1993a,b). The influence of growth present study focused on the association
hormone on stature and body composition patterns of body build and thyroid hormone
has also been shown in numerous studies levels in order to test two different theories
(Rudman et al., 1990, 1991; Bouillon, 1991; about the relationship between these two
Crist et al., 1991; Salomon et al., 1991; Bin- trait systems. Although the correlations benerts et al., 1992). In the present investiga- tween thyroid hormone levels and anthropo-
S. KIRCHENGAST
494
TABLE 5. Spearman rank correlation coefficients of thyroid hormone levels and hormone ratios with anthropometric
uariables in oostmenooausal women
Anthropometric character
Maximum head length
Maximum head breadth
Bizygomatic breadth
Bigonial breadth
Mouth breadth
Morphological facial height
Nasion-stomion height
Labial height
Stature
Chin height
Acromial height
Dactylion height
Span
Sitting height
Biacromial breadth
Chest breadth
Waist breadth
Pelvic breadth
Projectivic arm length
Physiognomic leg length
Bicondylar breadth
Chest girth
Waist girth
Hip girth
Upper arm circumference relaxed
Upper arm circumference flexed
Hand circumference
Thigh circumference
Body weight
Acromio-chest index
Acromio-cristal index
Chest index
Bicristal index
Scelic index
Bicondylar index
Hip index
Waist index
Hand circumference index
Body mass index
Index of corpulence
Quetelet index
Muscle index (upper arm)
F1: Breadth-circumference factor
F2: Length-height factor
F3: Length-height factor
F4: Facial height factor
F5: Facial breadth-lenpth factor
F6: Facial breadth factor
T4
T3
TSH
TBG
T3R4
T~ITSH
T3RSH
0.02
0.01
-0.10
0.01
-0.13
0.03
-0.02
0.03
0.05
0.07
0.02
-0.01
0.01
0.03
-0.03
-0.09
0.10
0.08
-0.01
0.05
0.19"
0.06
0.06
0.03
0.09
0.06
-0.07
0.05
0.01
-0.13
0.12
-0.14
0.09
0.03
0.12
-0.09
-0.08
-0.11
0.02
0.01
0.01
-0.21*
0.06
-0.01
0.08
0.01
-0.06
-0.07
-0.01
0.35***
0.10
0.06
0.04
0.08
0.09
-0.13
0.09
0.08
0.10
0.12
0.06
0.07
0.13
0.17*
0.17*
0.11
0.03
0.01
0.08
0.18*
0.04
0.03
0.05
0.04
-0.08
0.11
0.19"
0.14
0.13
0.09
0.10
0.01
0.01
-0.03
0.09
-0.08
0.03
0.01
0.07
0.12
0.05
0.02
0.13
0.05
0.06
0.19*
0.01
-0.05
-0.06
-0.08
-0.19
0.02
0.03
-0.13
-0.14
-0.13
-0.18
-0.02
-0.22**
-0.09
-0.14
-0.10
-0.09
-0.08
-0.19*
-0.14
-0.24**
-0.05
-0.05
-0.06
-0.15
-0.11
-0.13
-0.08
-0.11
0.09
-0.10
0.18"
0.09
-0.12
0.13
-0.24**
0.13
0.25**
0.19*
0.13
0.13
0.12
0.10
-0.05
0.09
-0.01
-0.01
-0.01
0.07
-0.04
0.14
-0.06
0.10
-0.01
0.05
0.12
0.11
-0.13
0.08
0.04
0.02
0.08
-0.07
0.03
0.14
-0.13
0.01
-0.04
-0.19*
0.04
-0.01
0.02
-0.18*
0.04
-0.04
0.19*
0.24**
-0.10
-0.02
0.07
0.29**
0.28**
-0.02
-0.22*
0.19*
0.15
-0.04
0.12
0.13
0.11
-0.09
0.09
0.07
0.21*
0.19*
0.14
0.06
0.24**
0.12
-0.13
0.16
0.01
-0.02
-0.13
-0.15
-0.23**
-0.13
0.05
0.06
-0.07
0.13
0.01
0.08
-0.18*
-0.03
0.16*
-0.25**
0.02
-0.01
0.03
-0.11
-0.06
-0.09
-0.04
-0.05
-0.1
7*
.~
-0 19*
0.11
0.05
0.21*
0.19*
0.17*
-0.01
0.04
0.02
0.17*
0.17*
0.25**
-0.07
0.21*
0.07
0.11
0.06
0.16
0.12
0.22**
0.16
0.33***
0.13
0.08
0.15
0.18*
0.14
0.17*
0.14
0.17"
0.01
0.09
0.01
0.07
0.17*
0.25**
-0.04
0.04
0.07
0.16
0.12
0.15
-0.10
0.12
0.19*
-0.04
-0.06
0.22*
0.06
-0.05
0.19*
0.16
0.03
-0.17*
0.03
0.08
0.04
0.19*
0.16
0.20*
-0.02
ox*
0.13
0.31***
0.20
0.27**
0.11
0.21*
0.14
0.01
0.17*
0.15
0.04
0.01
-0.05
0.15
-0.07
0.19*
-0.03
-0.14
0.03
-0.03
0.11
-0.09
-0.18*
0.16
-0.04
0.06
0.01
0.14
-0.10
0.06
0.19*
0.01
0.01
0.11
0.16
-0.08
-0.01
-0.15
-0.19*
0.04
-0.02
0.07
-0.07
-0.01
-0.08
0.05
-0.06
-0.16
-0.03
0.08
-0.17*
0.03
*Probability of error: P < 0.05.
**Probability of error: P < 0.01.
***Probability of error: P < 0.001.
metric variables were significant at the 1%
level, the absolute values of correlation coefficients observed in the present study
mostly fell short of 0.32. These low correlation coefficients are to be expected, since
growth and development as well as the expression of various morphological traits are
multifactorially conditioned, and the thyroid hormones represent only one causal factor among others (Knussmann et al., 1986).
The positive correlations found between
various anthropometric variables and levels
of triiodothyronine and thryoxine are not
surprising. They reflect the well-understood
relationship between thyroid hormone levels and somatic growth common t o most vertebrates (Tonna, 1973). Both triiodothyronine and thyroxine influence the synthesis
of RNA and DNA (Kaplan, 1982; Kuhlmann
and Straub, 1986; Ezzart et al., 1991). They
FEMALE BODY SHAPE AND THYROID HORMONES
interact with somatotropin to induce normal
ossification and linear growth (Tonna, 1973;
Royer, 1974; Kaplan, 1981; Kuhlmann and
Straub, 1986; Melmed and Yamashita,
1986; Ezzart et al., 1991)and stimulate bone
resorption independently of somatotropin
(Baran and Braverman, 1991). The thyroid
hormones also have an anabolic effect; hypothyroid animals and humans have fewer
muscle cells than normal conspecifics
(Cheek et al., 1965). Triiodothyronine, either by itself or in interaction with somatotropin, stimulates the secretion of the
growth factor somatomedin-C, which is essential for normal growth and development
(Phillips and Unterman, 1984; Binoux et al.,
1985; Ikeda et al., 1989, 1990; Wolf et al.,
1989; Matuso et al., 1990).
The present study examined correlations
between thyroid hormone levels and body
build in adequately large samples of both
pre- and postmenopausal women in order to
evaluate two different patterns that have
been reported: an association of higher thyroid hormone levels with slender (leptosomatic) body build on the one hand (Tanner,
1977; Poldenak, 1983) and a positive correlation between thyroid hormone levels (especially of triiodothyronine) and various
measures of fatness and body weight on the
other (Bray et al., 1976; Raschka, 1991). It
was found that in pre- and in postmenopausal women the serum levels of thyroxine
and triiodothyronine correlate positively
with the amount of subcutaneous fat tissue.
A marked association between thyroid hormone levels and the amount and distribution of subcutaneous fat tissue was found to
obtain independently of the menstrual status. This result corroborates the findings of
Bray et al. (1976) and Raschka (1991). The
direction of the correlations between anthropometric variables and TSH levels differs
between pre- and postmenopausal women.
Premenopausal women show mainly positive correlation; in postmenopausal women,
negative correlations prevail. These different correlation patterns between pre- and
postmenopausal women may be due to the
decrease of TSH levels with increasing age,
especially after menopause (Knick, 1974;
Berthezene, 1979; Baschieri et al., 1982;
Rubenstein et al., 1973; Caplan et al., 1981;
495
Bottiglioni et al., 19831, and to the wellknown changes in the amount and distribution of subcutaneous fat tissue after menopause (Knick, 1974; Aloysio et al., 1988; Ley
et al., 1992; Dawson-Hughes and Harris,
1992).
The results of the present study indicate a
marked association between thyroid hormone levels and body build and support the
findings of Raschka that higher thyroid hormone levels are related positively to the
amount and distribution of subcutaneous fat
tissue in adult females.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author expresses her gratitude to
E.-M. Winkler for his support of her work
and his valuable comments on the present
paper. I am gratefully indebted to M. Cartmill for his endeavors in editing the manuscript. Special thanks go to my probands for
participating in the present study.
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