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P M Stewart and Z Krozowski

Under the guise of a satellite meeting of the 12th International Congress of Nephrology, Felix Frey (Bern) and John Funder (Melbourne) recently put together a comprehensive meeting in the secluded resort of Appenberg, Switzerland, devoted to the topic of 11 β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD). Every international group working in this area was represented, with presentations and lively discussion from both clinicians and basic scientists in the field.

With the recent characterization and cloning of 5α-reductases, 5′deiodinase, and 3β/17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases, emphasis on steroid and thyroid hormone action is moving from abnormalities of secretion to studying tissue metabolism. This is particularly relevant for 11β-HSD and mineralocorticoid/glucocorticoid hormone action. 11β-HSD is responsible for the interconversion of 'active' C11-hydroxylated C21-corticosteroids to their 'inactive' C11-keto derivatives. Although 11β-HSD activity had been described in liver, placenta and kidney in the 1950s, it was not until Drs Ulick and New ascribed a

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J. Kvetny

Nuclear binding of thyroxine (T4), cellular deiodination of T4 and nuclear accumulation of endogenous tri-iodothyronine (T3) were investigated in mononuclear blood cells from eight patients with anorexia nervosa.

Although the patients were euthyroid, serum T3 was depressed and serum reverse T3 increased. The nuclear maximal specific binding capacity (msbc) for T4 in cells from patients with anorexia nervosa was increased (2·4 × 10−16 mol T4/10 μg DNA, P<0·01) as compared to that of normal subjects (msbc = 1·1 × 10−16 mol T4/10 μg DNA), whereas the equilibrium association constant did not differ from that of normal subjects (K a = 2·2 × 109 vs 3·0 × 109l/mol).

Cellular deiodination of T4 was significantly depressed (V max = 4·0 × 10−17 mol iodine/106 cells per min) as compared to that of normal subjects (V max = 2·0 × 10−16 mol iodine/106 cells per min), whereas nuclear accumulation of endogenous T3 was normal (V max = 3·0 10−19 mol T3/10 μg DNA per min).

Three patients started to gain weight and, concomitantly with the normalization of serum T3, the nuclear T4 capacity returned to normal. Cellular deiodination of T4 did not normalize within the observation period.

In conclusion, patients with anorexia nervosa, in which serum T3 is depressed, have an increased capacity of nuclear T4 receptors. The cellular 5' deiodinase is inhibited but nuclear accumulation of endogenous T3 is normal.

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JH Mitchell, F Nicol, GJ Beckett and Arthur JR

Adequate dietary iodine supplies and thyroid hormones are needed for the development of the central nervous system (CNS) and brown adipose tissue (BAT) function. Decreases in plasma thyroxine (T4) concentrations may increase the requirement for the selenoenzymes types I and II iodothyronine deiodinase (ID-I and ID-II) in the brain and ID-II in BAT to protect against any fall in intracellular 3,3',5 tri-iodothyronine (T3) concentrations in these organs. We have therefore investigated selenoenzyme activity and expression and some developmental markers in brain and BAT of second generation selenium- and iodine-deficient rats. Despite substantial alterations in plasma thyroid hormone concentrations and thyroidal and hepatic selenoprotein expression in selenium and iodine deficiencies, ID-I, cytosolic glutathione peroxidase (cGSHPx) and phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (phGSHPx) activities and expression remained relatively constant in most brain regions studied. Additionally, brain and pituitary ID-II activities were increased in iodine deficiency regardless of selenium status. This can help maintain tissue T3 concentrations in hypothyroidism. Consistent with this, no significant effects of iodine or selenium deficiency on the development of the brain were observed, as assessed by the activities of marker enzymes. In contrast, BAT from selenium- and iodine deficient rats had impaired thyroid hormone metabolism and less uncoupling protein than in tissue from selenium- and iodine-supplemented animals. Thus, the effects of selenium and iodine deficiency on the brain are limited due to the activation of the compensatory mechanisms but these mechanisms are less effective in BAT.

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P. A. Hoover, M. K. Vaughan, J. C. Little and R. J. Reiter


The reproductive and thyroid status of male Syrian hamsters maintained on long days (14 h light, 10 h darkness) were assessed after 10 weeks of daily injections of pharmacological doses of melatonin (25 μg s.c.) and/or N-methyl-dl-aspartic acid (NMDA, 0·025–6 mg i.p.), a compound with receptor sites in the central nervous system which are known to affect reproduction. Melatonin given during the late light phase decreased reproductive organ weights and levels of serum and pituitary prolactin and serum thyroxine (T4); these results are similar to published reports on the effects of chronic short photoperiod treatment of this species. Reproductive organ weights, T4 levels and values for prolactin did not differ significantly between groups receiving only melatonin and those receiving NMDA in addition to melatonin; likewise these variables did not differ significantly between groups receiving only either NMDA or saline. NMDA alone and in combination with melatonin increased serum tri-iodothyronine (T3). The brown adipose tissue enzyme T4 5′-deiodinase demonstrated an increased activity in the presence of NMDA, with the lowest dosage eliciting the most significant effect.

Previous studies have demonstrated that NMDA reverses the reproductive effects of short photoperiod. The results of this study show that NMDA is incapable of preventing the inhibitory reproductive effects of exogenously administered melatonin. These observations are consistent with the proposal for a site of action for NMDA on neural regions more proximal than those altered by melatonin; alternatively, NMDA may interfere with neurotransmitter actions in the pathway controlling melatonin production.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 133, 51–58

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PJ O'Shea and GR Williams

Thyroid hormones exert a range of developmental and physiological actions in all vertebrates. Serum concentrations of L-thyroxine (T4) and 3,5,3 -L-triiodothyronine (T3) are maintained by a negative feedback loop involving T3-inhibition of hypothalamic thyrotrophin releasing hormone (TRH) and pituitary thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion, and by tissue specific and hormone-regulated expression of the three iodothyronine deiodinase enzymes that activate or metabolise thyroid hormones. T3 actions are mediated by two T3-receptors, TRalpha and TRbeta, which act as hormone-inducible transcription factors. The TRalpha (NR1A1) and TRbeta (NR1A2) genes encode mRNAs that are alternatively spliced to generate 9 mRNA isoforms (TRalpha1, alpha2, alpha3, Deltaalpha1, Deltaalpha2, beta1, beta2, beta3 and Deltabeta3), of which four (TRalpha1, alpha2, beta1 and beta2) are known to be expressed at the protein level in vivo. The numerous TR mRNAs are expressed widely in tissue- and developmental stage-specific patterns, although it is important to note that levels of mRNA expression may not correlate with receptor protein concentrations in individual tissues. The TRalpha2, alpha3, Deltaalpha1 and Deltaalpha2 transcripts encode proteins that fail to bind T3 in vitro. These non-binding isoforms, in addition to TRDeltabeta3 which does bind hormone, may act as dominant negative antagonists of the true T3-binding receptors in vitro, but their physiological functions and those of the TRbeta3 isoform have not been determined. In order to obtain a new understanding of the complexities of T3 action in vivo and the role of TRs during development, many mouse models of disrupted or augmented thyroid hormone signalling have been generated. The aim of this review is to provide a picture of the physiological actions of thyroid hormones by considering the phenotypes of these genetically modified mice.

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N. Bagchi and T. R. Brown


It has been reported that prior exposure of thyroid tissue to TSH in vitro induces a state of refractoriness to new challenges of the hormone. We have investigated the effect of repeated TSH treatment on thyroid secretion to determine whether such refractoriness exists in vivo. The rate of thyroid secretion was estimated by measuring the rate of hydrolysis of labelled thyroglobulin from mouse thyroid glands in vitro. The thyroid glands were labelled in vivo with 131I and then cultured for 20 h in the presence of mononitrotyrosine, an inhibitor of iodotyrosine deiodinase. The rate of hydrolysis of labelled thyroglobulin was measured as the percentage of radioactivity released as free iodotyrosines and iodothyronines into the gland and the medium at the end of incubation. Thyrotrophin was administered in vivo at hourly intervals for 2–4 injections. The corresponding control group received saline injections every hour except for the last injection when they received TSH. The peak rates of thyroglobulin hydrolysis, measured 2 h following the last injection, were similar in animals receiving two, three or four TSH injections and were not different from those in the control groups. Serum tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine concentrations 2 h after the last injection were higher in the groups receiving multiple TSH injections. Thyroidal cyclic AMP accumulation in response to TSH was markedly depressed in the group receiving multiple injections compared with the group receiving a single injection of TSH in vivo. These data indicate that (1) the stimulatory effect of TSH on thyroidal secretion is not diminished by prior administration of the hormone in vivo, (2) repeated TSH administrations in vivo cause refractoriness of the adenylate cyclase response to TSH and (3) a dichotomy exists between the secretory response and the adenylate cyclase response to repeated administrations of TSH.

J. Endocr. (1985) 106, 153–157

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Emmely M de Vries, Eric Fliers and Anita Boelen

decrease precede the decrease in circulating TH levels ( Fekete et al . 2005 ). A striking observation that has been linked to the illness induced TRH decrease is a marked increase in type 2 deiodinase (D2/ Dio2 ) mRNA expression both in tanycytes

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G Schreiber

In larger mammals, thyroid hormone-binding plasma proteins are albumin, transthyretin (TTR) and thyroxine (T4)-binding globulin. They differ characteristically in affinities and release rates for T4 and triiodothyronine (T3). Together, they form a 'buffering' system counteracting thyroid hormone permeation from aqueous to lipid phases. Evolution led to important differences in the expression pattern of these three proteins in tissues. In adult liver, TTR is only made in eutherians and herbivorous marsupials. During development, it is also made in tadpole and fish liver. More intense TTR synthesis than in liver is found in the choroid plexus of reptilians, birds and mammals, but none in the choroid plexus of amphibians and fish, i.e. species without a neocortex. All brain-made TTR is secreted into the cerebrospinal fluid, where it becomes the major thyroid hormone-binding protein. During ontogeny, the maximum TTR synthesis in the choroid plexus precedes that of the growth rate of the brain and occurs during the period of maximum neuroblast replication. TTR is only one component in a network of factors determining thyroid hormone distribution. This explains why, under laboratory conditions, TTR-knockout mice show no major abnormalities. The ratio of TTR affinity for T4 over affinity for T3 is higher in eutherians than in reptiles and birds. This favors T4 transport from blood to brain providing more substrate for conversion of the biologically less active T4 into the biologically more active T3 by the tissue-specific brain deiodinases. The change in affinity of TTR during evolution involves a shortening and an increase in the hydrophilicity of the N-terminal regions of the TTR subunits. The molecular mechanism for this change is a stepwise shift of the splice site at the intron 1/exon 2 border of the TTR gene. The shift probably results from a sequence of single base mutations. Thus, TTR evolution provides an example for a molecular mechanism of positive Darwinian evolution. The amino acid sequences of fish and amphibian TTRs are very similar to those in mammals, suggesting that substantial TTR evolution occurred before the vertebrate stage. Open reading frames for TTR-like sequences already exist in Caenorhabditis elegans, yeast and Escherichia coli genomes.

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J. A. Ceppi and A. A. Zaninovich


The present work studied the effects of amiodarone (AMD) and iopanoic acid (IA) on the conversion of thyroxine (T4) to tri-iodothyronine (T3) by rat myocardium. In vivo: male Wistar rats weighing 200–250 g were injected i.p. with AMD (2·5 mg/100 g body weight per day for 12 days) or IA (5 mg/100 g body weight every 12 h for 72 h). Hearts were then removed and processed as in the in-vitro studies. In vitro: hearts were homogenized in Krebs–Ringer phosphate buffer (pH 7·4) and AMD (0·1 mmol/l) or IA (10 mmol/l) plus dithiothreitol (8 mmol/l) and 0·01 μCi [125I]T4 or [125I]T3 were added. After incubation for 2 h at 37 °C, radioactive compounds were identified by paper chromatography. Both AMD and IA given in vivo blocked T4 to T3 conversion significantly (P<0·005). When added in vitro, AMD failed to inhibit T4 deiodination to T3 whereas IA induced a significant (P<0·005) decrease in T3 generation. Deiodination of [125I]T3 by heart homogenates was not altered by AMD or IA. While the expected increase in circulating T4 (P< 0·001) and decrease in T3 (P< 0·001) did occur after AMD or IA treatment, plasma TSH in AMD-treated rats was decreased (P<0·001), while in IA-treated animals it was increased (P< 0·001), thus indicating that AMD did not inhibit pituitary type-II 5′-monodeiodinase.

In summary, these data suggest that the hypometabolism induced by AMD in rat myocardium through a decrease in the supply of T3 is not responsible for the anti-arrhythmic activity of this drug since IA, which is not an anti-arrhythmic compound, elicited the same effect on cardiac T3. It follows that inhibition of 5′-deiodinase and the anti-arrhythmic activity of AMD are independent properties.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 121, 431–434

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S Chan, CJ McCabe, TJ Visser, JA Franklyn and MD Kilby

N-TERA-2 cl/D1 (NT2) cells, a human embryonal cell line with characteristics of central nervous system precursor cells, were utilised to study thyroid hormone action during early neuronal growth and differentiation. Undifferentiated NT2 cells expressed mRNAs encoding thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) alpha1, alpha2 and beta1, iodothyronine deiodinases types 2 (D2) and 3 (D3) (which act as the pre-receptor regulators), and the thyroid hormone-responsive genes myelin basic protein (MBP) and neuroendocrine specific protein A (NSP-A). When terminally differentiated into post-mitotic neurons (hNT), TRalpha1 and TRbeta1 mRNA expression was decreased by 74% (P=0.05) and 95% (P<0.0001) respectively, while NSP-A mRNA increased 7-fold (P<0.05). However, mRNAs encoding TRalpha2, D2, D3 and MBP did not alter significantly upon neuronal differentiation and neither did activities of D2 and D3. With increasing 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T(3)) concentrations, TRbeta1 mRNA expression in cultured NT2 cells increased 2-fold at 10 nM T(3) and 1.3-fold at 100 nM T(3) (P<0.05) compared with that in T(3)-free media but no change was seen with T(3) treatment of hNT cells. D3 mRNA expression in NT2 cells also increased 3-fold at 10 nM T(3) (P=0.01) and 2.4-fold at 100 nM T(3) (P<0.05) compared with control, but there was no change in D3 enzyme activity. In contrast there was a 20% reduction in D3 mRNA expression in hNT cells at 10 nM T(3) (P<0.05) compared with control, with accompanying reductions in D3 activity with increasing T(3) concentrations (P<0.05). There was no significant change in the expression of the TRalpha isoforms, D2, MBP and NSP-A with increasing T(3) concentrations in either NT2 or hNT cells. Undifferentiated NT2 and differentiated hNT cells show differing patterns of T(3)-responsiveness, suggesting that there are different regulatory factors operating within these cell types.