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Thyroxine binding globulin (TBG) is the high-affinity serum binding protein for thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Normally, the thyroid adjusts to changing concentrations of TBG by producing more or less thyroid hormone to maintain a constant level of metabolically important free hormone.
Elevated TBG levels are associated with influences such as pregnancy, genetic predisposition, oral contraceptives, and estrogen therapy. TBG levels can decrease with androgenic or anabolic steroids, large doses of glucocorticoids, hypoproteinemic states, liver disease, nephrotic syndrome, and congenital TBG variants.
Determination of thyroxine-binding globulin levels is particularly useful for cases in which total thyroid hormone levels do not correlate with the thyrometabolic status, most commonly with pregnancy or the use of contraceptive steroids
A change in thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) concentration may be of hereditary, pathophysiologic, or pharmacologic origin.
The TBG concentration indicates whether an abnormally high or low total thyroid hormone concentration is offset by a parallel increase or decrease in TBG concentration.
In TBG deficiency, one may find euthyroid patients with extremely low total thyroxine (T4) values. Conversely, patients with high TBG levels may be clinically euthyroid with high serum total T4 values.
Twenty-four specimens obtained during various stages of pregnancy yielded results ranging from 27 to 66 mcg/mL with a median of 43 mcg/mL. The literature suggests 47 to 59 mcg/mL as the range of TBG values expected during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Females using estrogen-based contraception may exceed the reference range.
Males: 12-26 mcg/mL
Females: 11-27 mcg/mL
1. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood, DE Bruns. 2006, pp 2053-2095
2. Wenzel KW: Pharmacological interference with in vitro tests of thyroid function. Metabolism 1981;30:717-732