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CH Verhoelst, S Van Der Geyten, and VM Darras

Iodothyronine deiodinase in vitro activity studies in the chicken showed the presence of type I and type III iodothyronine deiodinase activity in both liver and kidney. Due to the lack of a specific antiserum the cellular localization of the deiodinase proteins could not be revealed until now. In the present study, specific antisera were used to study the renal and hepatic distribution of type I and type III iodothyronine deiodinase protein in the chicken. Immunocytochemical staining of liver tissue led to an immunopositive signal in the hepatocytes in general. Moreover, a zonal distribution could be detected for both enzymes. Maximum protein expression was shown in a thin layer of hepatocytes bordering the blood veins. Although pericentral localization of type I deiodinase protein has been previously reported in the rat, no data were given concerning type III deiodinase protein. In the present study, we report the co-localization of both enzymes in the chicken. Co-expression of the deiodinases was also found in the kidney. Expression of both proteins was associated with the tubular epithelial cells and with the transitional epithelium, and the inner longitudinal and outer circular muscle layers of the ureter. No staining could be detected in the lamina propria or in the fat tissue surrounding the ureter.

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S Van der Geyten and V M Darras

Glucocorticoids are known regulators of thyroid function in vertebrates. In birds they have clear tissue-specific and age-dependent effects on thyroid hormone metabolism. In mammals, however, few studies exist addressing these aspects using an in vivo model system. We therefore set out to examine the acute effects of a single dose of dexamethasone (DEX) on plasma 3,5,3′-tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) levels, as well as on the activity of the different deiodinases in liver, kidney and brain in the developing rat. In 20-day-old fetuses (E20), glucocorticoids had no effects on circulating thyroid hormone levels despite their clear effects on hepatic and renal deiodinases, thereby indicating that under these conditions circulating thyroid hormone levels are more dependent on thyroidal secretion than on peripheral deiodination. In contrast, in 5-day-old rat pups, DEX did not seem to have any effects on hepatic and renal T3 production (via the type I deiodinase), whereas type III deiodinase (D3) activity in both these tissues increased significantly. These observations therefore suggested that the DEX-induced increase in circulating T3 levels is a direct consequence of the increase in plasma T4 levels. In 12-day-old pups (P12), however, the main effect of glucocorticoids on circulating levels was by increasing inner ring deiodination T3 through induction of D3 in both liver and kidney. Finally, in the brain, glucocorticoids stimulated thyroid hormone activity only during a short period of time (between E20 and P12) that largely overlaps with the transient window in time during which brain development is thyroid hormone sensitive. This was in contrast to the E20 and P12 brain, where the glucocorticoid-induced changes in type II deiodinase and D3 seemed to favor a status quo in local T3 availability.

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S Van der Geyten, N Byamungu, G E Reyns, E R Kühn, and V M Darras

Thyroid status is one of the most potent regulators of peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism in vertebrates. Despite this, the few papers that have been published concerning the role of thyroid hormones in the regulation of thyroid function in fish often offer conflicting data. We therefore set out to investigate the effects of tetraiodothyronine (thyroxine) (T4) or tri-iodothyronine (T3) supplementation (48 p.p.m.) via the food on plasma and tissue thyroid hormone levels as well as iodothyronine deiodinase (D) activities in the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). T4 supplementation did not induce a hyperthyroid state and subsequently had no effects on the thyroid hormone parameters measured, with the liver as the sole notable exception. In T4-fed tilapias, the hepatic T4 levels increased substantially, and this was accompanied by an increase in in vitro type I deiodinase (D1) activity. Although the lack of effect of T4 supplementation could be partially explained by an inefficient uptake of T4 from the gut, our current data suggest that also the increased conversion of T4 into reverse (r)T3 by the D1 present in the liver plays an important role in this respect. In addition, T3 supplementation increased plasma T3 and decreased plasma T4 concentrations. T3 levels were also increased in the liver, brain, kidney, gill and white muscle, but without affecting local T4 concentrations. However, this increase in T3 availability remained without effect on D1 activity in liver and kidney. This observation, together with the 6-n-propylthiouracyl (PTU) insensitivity of the D1 enzyme in fish, sets the D1 in teleost fish clearly apart from its mammalian and avian counterparts. The changes in hepatic deiodinases confirm the role of the liver as an important T3-regulating tissue. However, the very short plasma half-life of exogenously administered T3 implies the existence of an efficient T3 clearing/degradation mechanism other than deiodination.

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C H J Verhoelst, V M Darras, S A Roelens, G M Artykbaeva, and S Van der Geyten

It is widely accepted that type II iodothyronine deiodinase (D2) is mostly present in the brain, where it maintains the homeostasis of thyroid hormone (TH) levels. Although intensive studies have been performed on activity and mRNA levels of the deiodinases, very little is known about their expression at the protein level due to the lack of specific antisera. The current study reports the production of a specific D2 polyclonal antiserum and its use in the comparison of D2 protein distribution with that of type I (D1) and type III (D3) deiodinase protein in the choroid plexus at the blood–brain barrier level. Immunocytochemistry showed very high D2 protein expression in the choroid plexus, especially in the epithelial cells, whereas the D1 and D3 proteins were absent. Furthermore, dexamethasone treatment led to an up-regulation of the D2 protein in the choroid plexus. The expression of D2 protein in the choroid plexus led to a novel insight into the working mechanism of the uptake and transport of thyroid hormones along the blood–brain barrier in birds. It is hypothesized that D2 allows the prohormone thyroxine (T4) to be converted into the active 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3). Within the choroidal epithelial cells. T3 is subsequently bound to its carrier protein, transthyretin (TTR), to allow transport through the cerebrospinal fluid. Neurons can thus not only be provided with a sufficient T3 level via the aid of the astrocytes, as was hypothesized previously based on in situ hybridization data, but also by means of T4 deiodination by D2, directly at the blood–brain barrier level.

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R Vasilatos-Younken, Y Zhou, X Wang, JP McMurtry, RW Rosebrough, E Decuypere, N Buys, VM Darras, S Van Der Geyten, and F Tomas

In contrast to most vertebrates, GH reportedly has no effect upon somatic growth of the chicken. However, previous studies employed only one to two dosages of the hormone, and limited evidence exists of a hyperthyroid response that may confound its anabolic potential. This study evaluated the effects of 0, 10, 50, 100 and 200 microgram/kg body weight per day chicken GH (cGH) (0-200 GH) infused i.v. for 7 days in a pulsatile pattern to immature, growing broiler chickens (9-10 birds/dosage). Comprehensive profiles of thyroid hormone metabolism and measures of somatic growth were obtained. Overall (average) body weight gain was reduced 25% by GH, with a curvilinear, dose-dependent decrease in skeletal (breast) muscle mass that was maximal (12%) at 100 GH. This profile mirrored GH dose-dependent decreases in hepatic type III deiodinase (DIII) activity and increases in plasma tri-iodothyronine (T(3)), with bot! h also maximal (74 and 108% respectively) at 100 GH. No effect on type I deiodinase was observed. At the maximally effective dosage, hepatic DIII gene expression was reduced 44% versus controls. Despite dose-dependent, fold-increases in hepatic IGF-I protein content, circulating IGF-I was not altered with GH infusion, suggesting impairment of hepatic IGF-I release. Significant, GH dose-dependent increases in plasma non-esterified fatty acid and glucose, and overall decreases in triacylglycerides were also observed. At 200 GH, feed intake was significantly reduced (19%; P<0.05) versus controls; however, additional control birds pair-fed to this level did not exhibit any responses observed for GH-treated birds. The results of this study support a pathway by which GH impacts on thyroid hormone metabolism beginning at a pretranslational level, with reduced hepatic DIII gene expression, translating to reduced protein (enzyme) ex! pression, and reflected in a reduced level of peripheral T(3)-degrading activity. This contributes to decreased conversion of T(3) to its inactive form, thereby elevating circulating T(3) levels. The hyper-T(3) state leads to reduced net skeletal muscle deposition, and may impair release of GH-enhanced, hepatic IGF-I. In conclusion, GH has significant biological effects in the chicken, but profound metabolic actions predominate that may confound positive, IGF-I-mediated skeletal muscle growth.