Topical L-thyroxine: The Cinderella among hormones waiting to dance on the floor of dermatological therapy?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Topical hormone therapy with natural or synthetic ligands of nuclear hormone receptors such as glucocorticoids, vitamin D analogues and retinoids has a long and highly successful tradition in dermatology. Yet the dermatological potential of thyroid hormone receptor (TR) agonists has been widely ignored, despite abundant clinical, cell and molecular biology, mouse in vivo, and human skin and hair follicle organ culture data documenting a role of TR-mediated signalling in skin physiology and pathology. Here, we review this evidence, with emphasis on wound healing and hair growth, and specifically highlight the therapeutic potential of repurposing topical L-thyroxine (T4) for selected applications in future dermatological therapy. We underscore the known systemic safety and efficacy profile of T4 in clinical medicine, and the well-documented impact of thyroid hormones on, for example, human epidermal and hair follicle physiology, hair follicle epithelial stem cells and pigmentation, keratin expression, mitochondrial energy metabolism and wound healing. On this background, we argue that short-term topical T4 treatment deserves careful further preclinical and clinical exploration for repurposing as a low-cost, effective and widely available dermatotherapeutic, namely in the management of skin ulcers and telogen effluvium, and that its predictable adverse effects are well-manageable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-923
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • RXR
  • TR
  • TRE
  • bFGF
  • hair follicle
  • hormonal therapy
  • human skin
  • mitochondria
  • pigmentation
  • thyroid
  • triiodothyronine
  • wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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