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Free access

Aline Cordeiro, Luana Lopes Souza, Marcelo Einicker-Lamas and Carmen Cabanelas Pazos-Moura

Thyroid hormones are important modulators of lipid metabolism because the liver is a primary hormonal target. The hypolipidaemic effects of thyroid hormones result from the balance between direct and indirect actions resulting in stimulation of lipid synthesis and lipid oxidation, which favours degradation pathways. Originally, it was believed that thyroid hormone activity was only transduced by alteration of gene transcription mediated by the nuclear receptor thyroid hormone receptors, comprising the classic action of thyroid hormone. However, the discovery of other effects independent of this classic mechanism characterised a new model of thyroid hormone action, the non-classic mechanism that involves other signalling pathways. To date, this mechanism and its relevance have been intensively described. Considering the increasing evidence for non-classic signalling of thyroid hormones and the major influence of these hormones in the regulation of lipid metabolism, we reviewed the role of thyroid hormone in cytosolic signalling cascades, focusing on the regulation of second messengers, and the activity of effector proteins and the implication of these mechanisms on the control of hepatic lipid metabolism.

Free access

Emmely M de Vries, Eric Fliers and Anita Boelen

The ‘sick euthyroid syndrome’ or ‘non-thyroidal illness syndrome’ (NTIS) occurs in a large proportion of hospitalized patients and comprises a variety of alterations in the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid (HPT) axis that are observed during illness. One of the hallmarks of NTIS is decreased thyroid hormone (TH) serum concentrations, often viewed as an adaptive mechanism to save energy. Downregulation of hypophysiotropic TRH neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and of TSH production in the pituitary gland points to disturbed negative feedback regulation during illness. In addition to these alterations in the central component of the HPT axis, changes in TH metabolism occur in a variety of TH target tissues during NTIS, dependent on the timing, nature and severity of the illness. Cytokines, released during illness, are known to affect a variety of genes involved in TH metabolism and are therefore considered a major determinant of NTIS. The availability of in vivo and in vitro models for NTIS has elucidated part of the mechanisms involved in the sometimes paradoxical changes in the HPT axis and TH responsive tissues. However, the pathogenesis of NTIS is still incompletely understood. This review focusses on the molecular mechanisms involved in the tissue changes in TH metabolism and discusses the gaps that still require further research.

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The presence of ectopic pituitary tissue (derived from an adult rat) in prepubertal male and female rats caused the immature, masculine-type hepatic steroid metabolism to develop into female-type metabolism. It is concluded that the hypothalamus–pituitary system controls the ontogenesis of sex-dependent steroid metabolism in rat liver.

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J A M Mattheij, J J M Swarts, P Lokerse, J T van Kampen and D Van der Heide


The pituitary-ovarian axis was studied after withdrawal of thyroid hormone in 131I-radiothyroidectomized adult female rats. Oestrous cycles became prolonged and irregular within 2 weeks after the supply of thyroid hormone was stopped. If an LH surge occurred in hypothyroid rats on the day of vaginal pro-oestrus it was significantly greater in rats which had been made hypothyroid for 4–5 weeks than in controls; in hypothyroid rats with an LH surge on pro-oestrus, plasma progesterone showed a rise similar to that in controls at pro-oestrus; the ovulation rate was decreased in hypothyroid rats. About half of the rats from which blood was sampled daily in the afternoon between 7 and 18 days after tri-iodothyronine (T3) withdrawal had 1 day of pro-oestrus; on this day the LH surge was higher than in controls. On days 2 and 1 before and days 1 and 2 after this pro-oestrus, plasma progesterone was similar to that of controls on days 2 and 1 before and days 1 and 2 after pro-oestrus respectively. However, progesterone was higher in the period before and after these days. The other hypothyroid rats showed no pro-oestrus and no LH surge during this period, while their plasma progesterone levels were high on all days. On the morning of day 10 after T3 withdrawal and 5 days after the preceding pro-oestrus, most hypothyroid rats had high progesterone and low oestradiol plasma levels. In these rats, injection of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone caused a relatively small increase in LH; it did not stimulate the secretion of oestradiol or progesterone, and it did not induce ovulation. It was concluded that hypothyroidism induces major changes in the secretion of steroids by corpora lutea and growing follicles. Whether the changed steroid metabolism is the primary cause of the observed prolongation of the oestrous cycles, the increased pro-oestrous LH surge and the reduced ovulation rate remains to be investigated.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 146, 87–94

Free access

Sangeeta Maity, Dipak Kar, Kakali De, Vivek Chander and Arun Bandyopadhyay

This study elucidates the role of metabolic remodeling in cardiac dysfunction induced by hyperthyroidism. Cardiac hypertrophy, structural remodeling, and expression of the genes associated with fatty acid metabolism were examined in rats treated with triiodothyronine (T3) alone (8 μg/100 g body weight (BW), i.p.) for 15 days or along with a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha agonist bezafibrate (Bzf; 30 μg/100 g BW, oral) and were found to improve in the Bzf co-treated condition. Ultrastructure of mitochondria was damaged in T3-treated rat heart, which was prevented by Bzf co-administration. Hyperthyroidism-induced oxidative stress, reduction in cytochrome c oxidase activity, and myocardial ATP concentration were also significantly checked by Bzf. Heart function studied at different time points during the course of T3 treatment shows an initial improvement and then a gradual but progressive decline with time, which is prevented by Bzf co-treatment. In summary, the results demonstrate that hyperthyroidism inflicts structural and functional damage to mitochondria, leading to energy depletion and cardiac dysfunction.

Free access

WB Minich and U Loos

We report a method for the purification and radioactive labeling of human TSH receptor (TSHR). The method is based on the construction of a fusion TSHR (TSHR-Xa-BIO) which consists of the N-terminal 725 amino acids of human TSHR linked to the 4-amino acid Xa protease cleavage site and the 87-amino acid C-terminal domain of the biotin carboxyl carrier protein subunit of Escherichia coli acetyl-CoA carboxylase (the C-terminal domain directs the efficient posttranslational biotinylation of the protein). TSHR-Xa-BIO was produced in HeLa cells using recombinant vaccinia virus. The expressed protein was fully functional and was biotinylated with an efficiency of about 90%. Streptavidin-agarose-immobilized TSHR-Xa-BIO was labeled with 125I using the chloramine T oxidation procedure and specifically eluted from the solid phase after cleavage with protease Xa. Isolated native radiochemically pure 125I-labeled TSHR specifically interacted with pathological autoantibodies in the sera of patients with Graves' disease, and thus could be useful for the detection of these autoantibodies by immunoprecipitation analysis.

Free access

U Leonhardt, U Ritzel, G Schafer, W Becker and G Ramadori

Leptin, the product of the ob gene, is an important circulating signal for the regulation of body weight. In the present study the role of immunoreactive leptin (leptin-IR) was investigated in functional thyroid disease. Serum leptin-IR levels of 23 hypothyroid and 19 hyperthyroid patients were compared with 21 controls. Leptin-IR was quantified by a specific RIA. In hyperthyroid patients, leptin-IR was not different from controls. Serum leptin-IR levels were significantly increased in hypothyroid patients (21.0 +/- 2.7 micrograms/l vs controls 10.8 +/- 2.1 micrograms/l, P = 0.0044). When serum leptin of hypothyroid patients was compared with euthyroid controls of the same body mass index the difference was still significant (P = 0.0333 by paired Student's t-test). This might indicate that elevation of the serum leptin level does not merely reflect changes in body weight secondary to hypothyroidism, but might be increased to overcome the gain of body weight caused by hypothyroidism.

Open access

Lei Zhang, Carol Paddon, Mark D Lewis, Fiona Grennan-Jones and Marian Ludgate

Since TSH receptor (TSHR) expression increases during adipogenesis and signals via cAMP/phospho-cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB), reported to be necessary and sufficient for adipogenesis, we hypothesised that TSHR activation would induce preadipocyte differentiation. Retroviral vectors introduced constitutively active TSHR (TSHR*) into 3T3L1 preadipocytes; despite increased cAMP (RIA) and phospho-CREB (western blot) there was no spontaneous adipogenesis (assessed morphologically, using oil red O and QPCR measurement of adipogenesis markers). We speculated that Gβγ signalling may be inhibitory but failed to induce adipogenesis using activated Gsα (gsp*). Inhibition of phosphodiesterases did not promote adipogenesis in TSHR* or gsp* populations. Furthermore, differentiation induced by adipogenic medium with pioglitazone was reduced in TSHR* and abolished in gsp* expressing 3T3L1 cells. TSHR* and gsp* did not inactivate PPARγ (PPARG as listed in the HUGO database) by phosphorylation but expression of PPARγ1 was reduced and PPARγ2 undetectable in gsp*. FOXO1 phosphorylation (required to inactivate this repressor of adipogenesis) was lowest in gsp* despite the activation of AKT by phosphorylation. PROF is a mediator that facilitates FOXO1 phosphorylation by phospho-Akt. Its transcript levels remained constantly low in the gsp* population. In most measurements, the TSHR* cells were between the gsp* and control 3T3L1 preadipocytes. The enhanced down-regulation of PREF1 (adipogenesis inhibitor) permits retention of some adipogenic potential in the TSHR* population. We conclude that Gsα signalling impedes FOXO1 phosphorylation and thus inhibits PPARγ transcription and the alternative promoter usage required to generate PPARγ2, the fat-specific transcription factor necessary for adipogenesis.

Restricted access


A possible effect of thyroid hormones on numbers of mononuclear cells and immune reactivity has been studied in hyperthyroid and hypothyroid guinea-pigs and rats. There were no major changes in populations of blood mononuclear cells in hyperthyroid or hypothyroid animals compared with populations in euthyroid animals. Although there was some evidence for depressed cell-mediated responses to an extract of Candida (monilia) albicans in hyperthyroid rats as assessed by skin tests, this was minor, and responses in tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) were normal in all groups, whilst production of macrophage migration inhibition factor in response to PPD and Candida was similar in the three groups of animals. Antibody responses to sheep red blood cells, a thymic-dependent antigen, tended to be depressed in hyperthyroid and hypothyroid rats and increased in hyperthyroid and hypothyroid guinea-pigs, although this was significant only for hyperthyroid guinea-pigs 16 days after immunization. Responses to trinitrophenol-Ficoll, a thymic-independent antigen, were similar to the three groups of guinea-pigs. Thus, a major effect of excess or deficiency of thyroid hormone on immune responses to foreign antigens has not been demonstrated, although it is possible that immune reactions against thyroid antigens may be more sensitive to the effect of thyroid hormones than responses to foreign antigens.

Free access

Milutin Milenkovic, Xavier De Deken, Ling Jin, Mario De Felice, Roberto Di Lauro, Jacques E Dumont, Bernard Corvilain and Francoise Miot

In the thyroid, H2O2 is produced at the apical pole of thyrocytes by one or two NADPH oxidases (NOX), Duox1/2 proteins. The onset of Duox expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry in the developing mouse thyroid in parallel with thyroglobulin (Tg) iodination and the expression of other thyroid differentiation markers. Duox proteins were found at embryonic day (E) 15.5 and were mainly localised at the apical pole of thyrocytes. Tg was detected 1 day before (E14.5) and Tg iodination was concomitant with the expression of both Duox and Na+/I symporter (NIS; E15.5). The role of TSH in regulating Duox expression and H2O2 accumulation was evaluated in thyroids of adult mice with reduced (Tshr hyt/hyt or mice treated with thyroxine) or increased (methimazole or perchlorate treatment) TSH/Tshr activity. In mice with suppressed TSH/Tshr activity, Duox expression was only partially decreased when compared with wild-type, as observed by western blot. In Tshr hyt/hyt strain, Duox was still expressed at the apical pole and H2O2 measurements were normal. On the other hand, chronic TSH stimulation of the gland led to a decrease of H2O2 measurements without affecting Duox expression. The onset of Duox protein expression is compatible with their proposed function in thyroid hormone synthesis and it can be considered as a functional marker of the developing thyroid. However, Duox expression in adult is much less regulated by TSH than NIS and thyroperoxidase. It is not always correlated with the overall thyroid H2O2 accumulation, highlighting the importance of additional regulatory mechanisms which control either the production or H2O2 degradation.