Endocrine and metabolic diseases span a vast range of conditions. Together, they affect many millions of Americans and can profoundly decrease quality of life. NIDDK supports research on many of these conditions, including osteoporosis, cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, and obesity. Osteoporosis is a disease marked by reduced bone strength and linked to aging and fracture risk. 53 million people in the United States either have or are at risk for osteoporosis. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, affects about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older. 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease in which salt and water cannot flow appropriately in many critical tissues. Despite dramatic advances in treatment and life expectancy, cystic fibrosis substantially reduces lifespan and its management is challenging. As people are living longer with this disease, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes has emerged as a common problem. While treatments have improved for many of these diseases, we have much to learn about the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors that underlies their progression and which may provide avenues to prevention and new therapies.
Examples of NIDDK-supported research efforts in these areas include:
- Studies of environmental factors that may alter thyroid function.
- Research building on discoveries about the specific effects of various cystic fibrosis-causing genetic mutations in order to develop therapies that counteract the disease at a molecular level.
- Studies increasing our understanding of how cells sense and respond to available fuel and nutrient levels.
- Experiments aiming to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying autoimmune disorders such Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease.
- Research to understand the role of parathyroid hormone in bone health and to identify the best treatment for hyperparathyroidism, a condition in which the parathyroid glands produce too much hormone.
NIDDK’s National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS) provides information about endocrine and metabolic diseases to patients, their families, and health care professionals. The Service answers inquiries by phone and email, and offers access to online resources and publications.