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Pharmacological particulars
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Thyroid hormones
ATCvet code: QH03AA01
Pharmacodynamic properties
Pharmacologically levothyroxine is classified as a hormonal preparation that replaces deficient endogenous hormones.
Levothyroxine T4 is converted to triiodothyronine T3. T3 acts on cellular processes via specific ligand-receptor interactions with the nucleus, the mitochondria, and the plasma membrane. Interaction of T3 with binding sites leads to augmented transcription of DNA or modulation of RNA, thus influencing protein synthesis and enzyme action.
Thyroid hormones act on many different cellular processes. In developing animals and human beings, they are crucial determinants of normal development, especially in the central nervous system. Thyroid supplementation increases basal cellular metabolism and oxygen consumption thereby affecting the function of virtually all organ systems.
Pharmacokinetic properties
Some dogs appeared to consistently either absorb L-thyroxine better and/or eliminate it more slowly than do other dogs. Furthermore absorption and elimination rate is influenced by daily intake of levothyroxine sodium (high absorption/low elimination in case of low intake and vice versa in case of high intake). The variability in pharmacokinetic parameters between individual dogs is considerable and, although the presence of food may affect absorption, it is considered to have a minor effect on the parameters overall. Absorption is relatively slow and incomplete: In most cases Tmax occurs between 1-5 hours after oral administration, mean Cmax varies more than 3 fold between dogs on the same doses. In adequately dosed dogs the plasma peak approaches or slightly exceeds the upper limit of normal plasma T4 levels, and by the end of 12 hours after oral administration, plasma T4 usually declines to the lower half of the normal range. The rates of disappearance of T4 from the plasma are slowed in hypothyroidism. A large part of the thyroxine is taken up by the liver. L-thyroxine is bound to plasma-proteins and plasma lipoproteins. Part of a dose of thyroxine is metabolised to the more potent triiodothyronine (T3) by deiodination. The process of deiodination continues. These further deiodinated metabolic products (other than T3 and T4) do not have thyromimetic activity. Other pathways of thyroid hormone metabolism include conjugation to form soluble glucuronides and sulphates for biliary or urinary excretion as well as cleavage of the ether linkage of the iodothyronine molecule. In the dog, over 50% of the T4 produced each day are lost in the faeces. The extrathyroidal body stores of T4 are eliminated and replaced in about 1 day.