Effects of Triiodothyronine (T3) in Ischemic Heart Failure

  • End date
    May 16, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Emory University
Updated on 16 October 2022
ejection fraction
heart failure
beta blockers
cardiac resynchronization therapy


This study aims to determine whether giving triiodothyronine (T3), a thyroid hormone, is safe and helps improve symptoms and signs of heart failure.

The study is divided into 2 phases. In the first phase, participants have a 50-50 chance of receiving the study drug. Participants who are randomized to receive the study drug will be admitted to the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) for 5 days for oral thyroid hormone treatment and monitoring. They will have 4 additional follow-up visits over the next year. Participants who are not randomized to receive the study drug will not be admitted but will have similar follow-up visits in the outpatient setting. Participants who do not receive the drug in Phase 1, will have the opportunity to enroll in Phase 2 of the study where everyone will receive the thyroid hormone treatment.

If this study finds that patients have improved heart function after treatment with thyroid hormone without unacceptable side effects, this could result in a new treatment for patients with heart failure.


About six million adults in the United States have heart failure (HF). Myocardial ischemic injury is the most common trigger of HF and most deaths after a myocardial infarction (MI) are preceded by HF. Treatment for HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) consists of beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists, antagonists of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (ACEI, ARB, angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibition), aldosterone antagonists, and Sodium-glucose Cotransporter-2 (SGLT-2) antagonists. Despite these guideline-directed therapies, 1 in 2 HF patients dies within 5 years of diagnosis, a death rate similar to that of some cancers. Thus, the development of next-generation therapies to treat HF represents an important unmet clinical need.

The overarching goal of these preclinical and anticipated clinical studies is to develop translatable strategies, using transient triiodothyronine (thyroid hormone T3) administration in patients with HF receiving beta1-adrenergic receptor (AR) blocker therapy (metoprolol succinate) with other HF medications, to permanently improve left ventricular (LV) contractile function by regenerating cardiac muscle.

The most-cited basis of ineffective cardiac regeneration in mammals is the low proliferative capacity of adult cardiomyocytes. The investigators have sought to understand the most important aspects of these processes to develop therapies that can be used to build or rebuild heart muscle in diseased hearts.

In brief, the investigators' preclinical studies show that T3+metoprolol therapy regenerates heart muscle by increasing cardiomyocytes around the scar, and increases the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) thereby restoring LV wall contractility in the scar region. De novo cardiomyogenesis requires neovascularization along with cardiomyocyte proliferation so that nutrient and oxygen demands of the expanding myocardium are met. Our preliminary studies also show that in chronic post-MI hearts, the mid-apical LV myocardium was repopulated with cardiomyocytes following T3+metoprolol therapy and, in this myocardium, cardiomyocytes were not hypertrophied (data not shown). Importantly, the researchers found no significant differences in mid-apical capillary-to-cardiomyocyte ratios between T3+metoprolol treated post-MI hearts and uninjured age-matched controls.

Together, these findings suggest lasting regenerative repair of hearts with severe preexisting ischemic injury after a brief period of T3+metoprolol combination therapy. Importantly, over the course of this 5-month follow up the research team did not observe any signs of arrhythmias or increase in mortality in mice treated with T3+metoprolol combination therapy. Low free T3 levels (<2.5pg/ml) are found in approximately 10% of patients with early HF and 58% of patients with late HF and are more frequently observed in patients with HF of NYHA class III-IV. This is likely secondary to the upregulation of type 3 iodothyronine deiodinase. Low T3 levels correlate with LVEF and BNP levels in HF. Importantly, a low T3 level in addition to BNP levels is an independent predictor of worse outcomes in patients with HF and after MI. The T3 production rate in normal humans is 16 ± 3 μg/m2 BSA/day. In patients with HF and low T3 levels, 20 μg/m2 BSA/d T3 increased T3 levels significantly to within the normal range. The rate of infusion on days 2 and 3 was then lowered to 13.4 μg/m2 BSA/day on average to maintain this level. There was a concomitant decrease in T4 (10.9 to 9.6 pg/ml) and TSH from 2.43 to 0.55 IU but they remained in the normal range.

Based on previous experience in patients with HF, researchers propose to employ a 5-day oral treatment with L-T3 in gradually increasing doses to rapidly establish higher T3 levels in patients with stable ischemic HF with an EF≤40%. The team anticipates that doses of T3 used in the proposed studies will not cause tachycardia or dysrhythmias. Even though the final L-T3 dose proposed here is twice that was previously used, the team believes that the possibility of inducing tachycardia is likely to be low because of the concomitant treatment with metoprolol succinate, a B1-selective (cardioselective) adrenergic receptor blocker therapy. Researchers do not anticipate the development of other hyperthyroid symptoms in these patients as L-T3 administration is only for a brief period of 5 days.

Condition Heart Failure
Treatment Control group, Thyroid hormone T3, Thyroid hormone T3
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05384847
SponsorEmory University
Last Modified on16 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Aged 18-80 years, male or female
Confirmed diagnosis of ischemic HF with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤ 40% (measured by echocardiography within 1 month of Screening)
Stable symptoms; NYHA class II-III without recent admission (1 month) for acute decompensation
Receiving guideline-based standard HF therapies at the maximum tolerated doses for >1 month and metoprolol succinate for >3 months. Patients on other beta-blockers will be switched to metoprolol succinate at equivalent doses for 1 month
Presence of ICD for >1 month or implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) for >3 months
Understand and sign the informed consent form

Exclusion Criteria

LVEF > 40%
Atrial fibrillation during the screening period or ventricular tachycardia (on ICD interrogation)
Non-ischemic HF including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, peripartum or chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy, other non-ischemic cardiomyopathies, constrictive pericarditis, significant and uncorrected valvular heart disease (severe regurgitation or severe stenosis or valvular disease requiring surgery), congenital heart disease, primary pulmonary hypertension or secondary severe pulmonary hypertension (≥ 70 mmHg); large pericardial or pleural effusions; right heart failure due to lung disease
Recent admission (1 month) for acute decompensated HF
Angina pectoris, cerebrovascular accident, myocardial infarction, revascularization (PCI or other surgery), carotid artery or other large vessel surgery, or cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) implant within the past 3 months
Planned revascularization within 6 months
History of heart transplantation, use of ventricular assist device (VAD) or preparation for heart transplantation, VAD
Liver dysfunction (bilirubin or alkaline phosphatase > 2 times the upper limit of normal (ULN), aspartate aminotransferase or alanine aminotransferase > 3 times the upper limit of normal), estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) calculated using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease Study (MDRD) method < 30 ml/min/1.73 m2
Systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg or > 160 mmHg
Blood K+ < 3.2 mmol/L or > 5.5 mmol/L
Women of childbearing age who are planning to become pregnant within 2 years, and pregnant or lactating women
Patients whose survival time is expected to be less than 6 months as judged by the investigator
Those who have participated in any drug clinical trial within the previous 3 months
Severe neurological disorders (Alzheimer's disease, progressive parkinsonism)
The subjects with a history of cancer that limits life expectancy to <1 year
Endocrine disorders include thyroid disease, thyroid replacement therapy, pheochromocytoma, thyromegaly, etc
The subject, in the judgment of the Investigator, is unable to complete the study or to comply with the requirements of the study (for administrative or other reasons)
Adults unable to consent
Amiodarone therapy
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