Thyroid function has a widespread effect on the cardiometabolic system. However, the causal association between either subclinical hyper- or hypothyroidism and the thyroid hormones with blood pressure (BP) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is not clear. We aim to investigate this in a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free tetraiodothyronine (FT4), hyper- and hypothyroidism, and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb), from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), were selected as MR instrumental variables. SNPs-outcome (BP, CVD) associations were evaluated in a large-scale cohort, the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study (n = 29,298). Causal estimates were computed by inverse-variance weighted (IVW), weighted median, and MR-Egger approaches. Genetically increased levels of TSH were associated with decreased systolic BP and with a lower risk of atrial fibrillation. Hyperthyroidism and TPOAb were associated with a lower risk of atrial fibrillation. Our data support a causal association between genetically decreased levels of TSH and both atrial fibrillation and systolic BP. The lack of significance after Bonferroni correction and the sensitivity analyses suggesting pleiotropy, should prompt us to be cautious in their interpretation. Nevertheless, these findings offer mechanistic insight into the etiology of CVD. Further work into the genes involved in thyroid functions and their relation to cardiovascular outcomes may highlight pathways for targeted intervention.
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