Effects of hypothyroidism on the structure and mechanical properties of bone in the ovine fetus

in Journal of Endocrinology

Thyroid hormones are important for normal bone growth and development in postnatal life. However, little is known about the role of thyroid hormones in the control of bone development in the fetus. Using computed tomography and mechanical testing, the structure and strength of metatarsal bones were measured in sheep fetuses in which thyroid hormone levels were altered by thyroidectomy or adrenalectomy. In intact fetuses, plasma concentrations of total calcium and the degradation products of C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen increased between 100 and 144 days of gestation (term 145±2 days), in association with various indices of bone growth and development. Thyroid hormone deficiency induced by thyroidectomy at 105–110 days of gestation caused growth retardation of the fetus and significant changes in metatarsal bone structure and strength when analyzed at both 130 and 144 days of gestation. In hypothyroid fetuses, trabecular bone was stronger with thicker, more closely spaced trabeculae, despite lower bone mineral density. Plasma osteocalcin was reduced by fetal thyroidectomy. Removal of the fetal adrenal gland at 115–120 days of gestation, and prevention of the prepartum rises in cortisol and triiodothyronine, had no effect on bodyweight, limb lengths, metatarsal bone structure or strength, or circulating markers of bone metabolism in the fetuses studied near term. This study demonstrates that hypothyroidism in utero has significant effects on the structure and strength of bone, with different consequences for cortical and trabecular bone.

Abstract

Thyroid hormones are important for normal bone growth and development in postnatal life. However, little is known about the role of thyroid hormones in the control of bone development in the fetus. Using computed tomography and mechanical testing, the structure and strength of metatarsal bones were measured in sheep fetuses in which thyroid hormone levels were altered by thyroidectomy or adrenalectomy. In intact fetuses, plasma concentrations of total calcium and the degradation products of C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen increased between 100 and 144 days of gestation (term 145±2 days), in association with various indices of bone growth and development. Thyroid hormone deficiency induced by thyroidectomy at 105–110 days of gestation caused growth retardation of the fetus and significant changes in metatarsal bone structure and strength when analyzed at both 130 and 144 days of gestation. In hypothyroid fetuses, trabecular bone was stronger with thicker, more closely spaced trabeculae, despite lower bone mineral density. Plasma osteocalcin was reduced by fetal thyroidectomy. Removal of the fetal adrenal gland at 115–120 days of gestation, and prevention of the prepartum rises in cortisol and triiodothyronine, had no effect on bodyweight, limb lengths, metatarsal bone structure or strength, or circulating markers of bone metabolism in the fetuses studied near term. This study demonstrates that hypothyroidism in utero has significant effects on the structure and strength of bone, with different consequences for cortical and trabecular bone.

Keywords:

Introduction

Thyroid hormones play an important role in normal skeletal growth and development both before and after birth (Williams 2009). In postnatal animals, triiodothyronine (T3) stimulates bone growth and ossification by a number of mechanisms, including differentiation of osteoblasts and hypertrophic chondrocytes, angiogenesis, synthesis of bone matrix, and mineralization (Bassett & Williams 2003). Thyroid hormone deficiency after birth causes suppression of bone growth, abnormalities in the organization of the epiphyseal growth plates, and delays in endochondral and intramembranous ossification (Stevens et al. 2000, Flamant et al. 2002, Freitas et al. 2005). However, much less is known about the consequences of thyroid hormone deficiency for bone development in the fetus.

Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is a condition of thyroid hormone deficiency that affects 1 in 3000–4000 births in the UK and is commonly due to abnormal development of the thyroid gland in the fetus (Kratzsch & Pulzer 2008). If left untreated, CH causes neurological disability and growth retardation of the skeleton and other tissues. Before birth, there is limited transfer of maternal thyroid hormones across the human placenta to the fetus, which may partially compensate for the deficiency in thyroid hormone production in the fetus with CH (Vulsma et al. 1989). Despite this, abnormalities in bone structure are evident in neonates with CH, which suggest that bone development is sensitive to reduced thyroid hormone levels in utero (Sack et al. 1993). Indeed, the bone age of the newborn infant is used as a clinical marker of the severity of hypothyroidism before birth and is one of the best predictors of the long-term consequences of CH for neurological function (Rovet et al. 1987, Virtanen 1988).

Developmental changes in the availability of the thyroid hormones occur before birth, and in the fetus as well as in the adult animal, the circulating and local levels of thyroid hormones are largely determined by the activities of deiodinase enzymes in specific tissues (Polk 1995). For most of gestation, thyroxine (T4) is metabolized to reverse-T3, which is biologically inactive, by deiodinase type 3 (D3) activity in the placenta and fetal organs. However, close to term, thyroid hormone metabolism changes such that T4 is preferentially deiodinated to T3 by D1 and D2. Maturation of the thyroid hormone axis in the fetus near term and the rise in circulating T3 closely parallel the prepartum rise in plasma cortisol and are known to be induced by glucocorticoids in utero. In sheep fetuses, surgical removal of the adrenal gland prevents the prepartum rise in both plasma cortisol and T3, while exogenous administration of cortisol or dexamethasone in immature fetuses causes a premature increase in plasma T3 (Forhead et al. 2006, 2007). Furthermore, changes in glucocorticoids and thyroid hormones near term are associated with changes to the growth rate of the fetus (Fowden et al. 1996), although the effects of these maturational hormones on bone development near term are unknown.

In the sheep fetus, surgical removal of the thyroid gland causes growth retardation of the skeleton and a delay in ossification of the epiphyseal centers of the limbs (Hopkins & Thorburn 1972, Erenberg et al. 1974, Ayromlooi et al. 1983). However, little is known about the role of thyroid hormones in the development of bone structure and strength in utero. Therefore, this study sets out to examine the effects of hypothyroidism induced by thyroidectomy on aspects of the structure and mechanical properties of bone in the sheep fetus as determined by computed tomography and strength testing. This study also examined bone development in fetuses where the prepartum rise in cortisol and T3 was abolished by adrenalectomy. The sheep fetus is a good experimental model for the human fetus as the timing of the development of the thyroid hormone axis is similar in the two species (Polk 1995). The ovine placenta appears to be impermeable to the transfer of maternal thyroid hormones, at least during late gestation (Hopkins & Thorburn 1971), which means that thyroid hormone deficiency in utero can be investigated by fetal thyroidectomy.

Methods and Materials

Animals

A total of 45 Welsh Mountain sheep fetuses of known gestational age were used in this study: 20 were singletons and 25 were twin fetuses. There were 19 female and 26 male fetuses. The ewes were housed in individual pens and were maintained on 200 g/day concentrates with free access to hay, water, and a salt-lick block. Food, but not water, was withheld for 18–24 h before surgery. All surgical and experimental procedures were in accordance with the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and were approved by the local animal ethics committee.

Surgical procedures

All surgical operations were carried out under halothane anesthesia (1.5% in O2–N2O) with positive pressure ventilation. Using surgical techniques described previously (Hopkins & Thorburn 1972, Barnes et al. 1977), 11 fetuses were thyroidectomized (TX) between 105 and 110 days of gestation (term 145±2 days) and five fetuses were adrenalectomized (AX) between 115 and 120 days of gestation. A further 12 fetuses were sham operated with exposure of either the thyroid (n=4) or the adrenal gland (n=8). At surgery, all fetuses were administered 100 mg ampicillin i.v. (Penbritin; Beecham Animal Health, Brentford, UK) and 2 mg gentamicin i.v. (Frangen-100; Biovet, Mullingar, Ireland). The ewes were given antibiotics i.m. (procaine penicillin, Depocillin; Mycofarm, Cambridge, UK) on the day of surgery and for 3 days thereafter.

Tissue collection

Seventeen unoperated fetuses were delivered at either 100 (n=5) or 114–116 (mean 115 days; n=5) or 127–131 (mean 130 days; n=7) days of gestation, whereas six TX fetuses were delivered at 127–131 days (mean 130 days). A further 12 intact, five TX, and five AX fetuses were delivered at 141–146 days (mean 144 days). All of the fetuses were delivered by cesarean section under general anesthesia (20 mg/kg sodium pentobarbitone i.v. to the ewe). At delivery, 5 ml blood samples were taken by venipuncture of the umbilical artery and placed into EDTA-containing tubes. The samples were centrifuged for 5 min at 1000 g and 4 °C, and the plasma aliquots were stored at −20 °C until analysis. The fetuses were administered with a lethal dose of barbiturate (200 mg/kg sodium pentobarbitone) and then weighed. Measurements of crown–rump length (CRL) and hind-limb (femur, tibia, metatarsus/phalanges) and fore-limb (humerus, radius, and metacarpus/phalanges) lengths were taken. For each fetus, the metatarsal bone from one hind limb was immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at −80 °C until analysis. In the sheep, each hind limb has one elongated metatarsal bone that is a fusion of metatarsals III and IV. Metatarsals I and V are not present and metatarsal II is a small vestigial bone. At delivery, there was no evidence of adrenal remnants in any of the AX fetuses, or thyroidal tissue in any of the TX fetuses.

Biochemical analyses

Plasma cortisol concentration was measured by RIA validated for use with ovine plasma as described previously (Robinson et al. 1983). The lower limit of detection was 1.5 ng/ml and the inter-assay coefficient of variation (CV) was 11%. Total plasma T3 and T4 concentrations were also measured by RIA using commercial kits validated for ovine plasma (ICN Biomedicals, Thame, UK; Fowden & Silver 1995). The lower limits of detection were 0.14 ng/ml for T3 and 7.0 ng/ml for T4. The inter-assay CVs were 10% for each assay. Plasma levels of total osteocalcin and the degradation products of C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen (CTX) were determined by ELISA (Immunodiagnostics Systems Ltd, Boldon, UK). The lower limits of detection of osteocalcin and CTX were 0.5 and 0.02 ng/ml, respectively, and all measurements were made in a single assay. Total plasma calcium was measured by a Siemens Dimension RXL autoanalyzer using Siemens reagents and calibrators (Siemens Healthcare, Camberley, UK).

3D computed tomography

Following dissection, the metatarsi from all fetuses were measured (length and diameter) using digital calipers (Mitutoyo, Andover, UK) and scanned using an Xtek Benchtop 160Xi scanner (Xtek Systems Ltd, Tring, UK) equipped with a Hamamatsu C7943 x-ray flat panel sensor (Hamamatsu Photonics, Welwyn Garden City, UK). All scans were taken at 150 kV, 60 μA using a molybdenum target with an exposure time of 534 ms and 4× digital gain. Image resolution was 29 μm. Reconstructed volume images were analyzed using VGStudio Max 1.2.1 Software (Volume Graphics GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany) to give values for bone volume to total volume ratio (BV/TV), bone surface to BV ratio (BS/BV), trabecular thickness, and spacing. Using standards of known density, all the voxels that formed the structure were automatically assigned bone mineral density in grams per cubic centimeter. Additional calculations were made of porosity, Euler number (a measure of connectivity), structural model index (SMI, a measure of surface convexity where an ideal plate, cylinder, and sphere have SMI values of 0, 3, and 4 respectively), trabecular pattern factor (an index of relative convexity or concavity of the total BS, where concavity indicates connectivity and convexity indicates isolated, disconnected structures), average object area and average object number (indicators of structural connectivity, where high connectivity results in few and large objects, while fragmentation results in large numbers of smaller objects), and degree of anisotropy (a measure of how highly orientated trabeculae are) using a custom written package and the Visilog Quantification+package (both Noesis, Crolles, France) within the Amira 4.1.2 package (Mercury Computer System, Inc., Chelmsford, MA, USA). Cross-sectional moment of inertia (CSMI) was calculated as , where r1 is the mean radius of the midshaft and r2 is the mean radius of the lumen at the same position.

Mechanical bone strength testing

Mechanical strength was carried out on the bones collected from fetuses at 144 days of gestation using a Bose Electroforce 3200 electromagnetic test instrument (Bose Corporation, Eden Prairie, MN, USA). The midshaft strength of the metatarsal bone was tested using a three-point bend test. Bones were placed anterior surface down on two supports equidistant from the ends and 40 mm apart. Samples were centrally loaded at a constant rate (6 mm/min) up to failure. To test the trabecular bone, a small block of trabecular bone (3×3×6 mm) was cut from the distal end of the developing bone using a Buehler Isomet low-speed saw and a Buehler diamond wafering blade (Buehler UK Ltd, Coventry, UK). The block was then placed between two small platens and then loaded at a constant rate (1 mm/min) until failure. Load–displacement curves were used to calculate maximum load at failure, maximum displacement at failure, stiffness, energy, and stress. Stiffness was calculated as the slope of the linear portion of the load–displacement curve. Energy was determined as the area under the curve. Stress was determined as the maximum load divided by the cross-sectional area as determined by computed tomography.

Statistical analysis

Developmental changes in variables measured in the intact fetuses were determined by one-way ANOVA followed by the Tukey test, or by one-way ANOVA on ranks followed by Dunn's test, as appropriate. The effect of TX at 130 and 144 days of gestation was assessed by two-way ANOVA with treatment and gestational age as factors, followed by the Tukey test. Differences between variables measured in intact and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation were determined by unpaired t-test. At 144 days of gestation, measurements of mechanical strength were compared among intact, TX, and AX fetuses by one-way ANOVA followed by the Tukey test. For the bone density graphs, data were compared every 0.13 g/cm3 over the range shown on each graph. Data were compared by two-way ANOVA with density and treatment as factors followed by the Tukey test. Data are presented as mean±s.e.m.; significance was determined with a P level of 0.05 or lower.

Results

Plasma hormone concentrations

In the intact fetuses, plasma concentrations of cortisol, T3, total calcium, and CTX increased between 100 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.01 in all cases; Table 1, Fig. 1a and b). There was no significant change in plasma osteocalcin over the gestational period studied (Fig. 1f).

Table 1

Mean (±s.e.m.) measurements of bodyweight, crown–rump length (CRL), and limb lengths in the fetuses of each experimental group at tissue collection

Gestational age (days)100115130144
TreatmentIntactIntactIntactTXIntactTXAX
Number of fetuses55761255
Body weight (kg)0.76±0.03a1.42±0.08a2.68±0.19b2.46±0.143.57±0.16c2.64±0.17*4.10±0.40
CRL (cm)29.0±1.0a36.4±1.2b42.9±1.0c42.7±1.348.6±1.5d42.2±1.0*50.6±2.0
Metatarsus/phalanges (cm)9.0±0.2a12.2±0.1b15.5±0.4c13.7±0.4*17.8±0.3d14.2±0.4*18.3±0.9
Tibia (cm)7.9±0.1a11.3±0.2a13.7±0.5ab12.0±0.4*15.6±0.3b12.8±0.5*15.0±0.6
Femur (cm)6.2±0.1a8.9±0.3b11.6±0.4c9.3±0.6*13.0±0.5c10.4±0.4*12.3±1.2
Hind-limb length (cm)23.1±0.2a32.4±0.5b40.8±1.2c35.2±1.5*45.1±1.5c37.4±0.9*45.7±0.9
Metacarpus/phalanges (cm)7.3±0.3a10.1±0.2b13.1±0.3c11.8±0.3*14.6±0.3d11.8±0.2*15.7±0.3
Radius (cm)6.2±0.2a8.5±0.2b10.9±0.3c9.9±0.3*12.3±0.2d10.4±0.2*11.7±1.2
Humerus (cm)5.2±0.2a7.4±0.2b9.0±0.3c8.4±0.410.7±0.3d8.7±0.2*11.7±1.3
Fore-limb length (cm)18.7±0.7a26.0±0.6b33.0±0.8c30.2±0.8*37.6±0.7d30.9±0.6*39.0±2.6

Within groups of intact fetuses and for each parameter measured, values with different superscript letters are significantly different from each other (P<0.05). *Significant difference from intact fetuses of the same gestational age (P<0.05).

Figure 1
Figure 1

Mean (±s.e.m.) plasma concentrations of (a) cortisol, (b) T4, (c) T3, (d) total calcium, (e) CTX, and (f) osteocalcin in the fetuses of each experimental group at tissue collection. Within intact fetuses, columns with different letters are significantly different from each other (P<0.05). *Significant difference from intact fetuses at the same gestational age (P<0.05). Significant difference from fetuses of the same treatment at 130 days of gestation (P<0.05).

Citation: Journal of Endocrinology 210, 2; 10.1530/JOE-11-0138

Fetal TX abolished the prepartum rise in fetal plasma T3, but not cortisol, concentration (Fig. 1a and c). Between 130 and 144 days of gestation, significant increments in plasma cortisol were observed in both intact and TX fetuses, and there was no significant difference in plasma cortisol concentration between the two groups of fetuses at each gestational age (Fig. 1a). In the TX fetuses, plasma concentrations of T4 and T3 were below, or close to, the limit of assay detection at 130 and 144 days of gestation (Fig. 1b and c). No significant difference in plasma T3 was observed between the intact and the TX fetuses at 130 days of gestation, but at 144 days, plasma T3 in the TX fetuses was lower than in the intact fetuses (P<0.05; Fig. 1c). Plasma osteocalcin was lower in the TX fetuses compared with intact fetuses at both 130 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.05 in both cases; Fig. 1f). Fetal TX had no effect on plasma total calcium or CTX (Fig. 1d and e).

Fetal AX prevented the normal prepartum increments in both plasma cortisol and T3 concentrations (Fig. 1a and c). At 144 days of gestation, plasma cortisol and T3 concentrations in the AX fetuses were lower than those observed in the intact fetuses and similar to those seen in the intact fetuses at 130 days of gestation (P<0.05 in both cases; Fig. 1a and c). Fetal AX had no effect on plasma concentrations of T4, total calcium, CTX, or osteocalcin at 144 days (Fig. 1).

Fetal morphology

In the intact fetuses, significant increments in bodyweight, CRL, and limb lengths were observed between 100 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.001 in all cases; Table 1). At 130 days of gestation, TX had no effect on fetal bodyweight or CRL, but fore- and hind-limb lengths were reduced in the TX compared with intact fetuses (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 1). By 144 days of gestation, bodyweight, CRL, and limb lengths in the TX fetuses were lower than those in the intact fetuses (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 1). No significant differences in bodyweight, CRL, or limb lengths were seen in the TX fetuses between 130 and 144 days of gestation (Table 1). No significant differences in the indices of morphology measured were observed between intact and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation (Table 1).

Bone structure

In the intact fetuses, cortical thickness, diameter, and CSMI at the metatarsal midshaft increased between 100 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 2; Fig. 2). The trabecular bone showed no consistent changes in trabecular thickness, porosity, SMI, average object number and area, Euler or degree of anisotropy between 100 and 144 days of gestation (Table 2). However, there were increases in trabecular spacing and the trabecular pattern factor (indicating an increasingly disconnected trabecular structure) between 115 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.05 in both cases; Table 2). This change in spacing lowered the BV/TV ratio but not to a significant level (Table 2).

Table 2

Mean (±s.e.m.) metatarsal length, midshaft cortical bone, and distal trabecular bone characteristics in the fetuses of each experimental group at tissue collection

Gestational age (days)100115130144
TreatmentIntactIntactIntactTXIntactTXAX
Number of fetuses55751255
Metatarsal length (mm)69.6±1.0a95.2±1.7b112.2±2.6cd102.6±1.5*114.7±4.3d103.4±3.4*118.9±3.5
Metatarsal midshaft cortical bone
 Wall thickness (mm)1.15±0.08a1.43±0.04ab1.43±0.09ab1.49±0.091.62±0.13b1.89±0.181.71±0.12
 Diameter (mm)5.22±0.16a6.78±0.15bc7.76±0.18c6.71±0.21*8.92±0.41d7.65±0.31*,†9.38±0.36
 Cross-sectional moment of inertia (mm4)33.7±4.6a92.9±7.2a151.8±14.2ab92.3±11.8*279.6±55.0b163.3±26.8329.7±45.0
Metatarsal distal trabecular bone
 BV/TV0.45±0.020.45±0.020.40±0.050.48±0.050.35±0.030.49±0.06*0.33±0.03
 BS/BV24.0±1.023.1±2.220.4±1.216.7±0.9*20.6±2.416.2±2.417.1±0.4
 Trabecular thickness (mm)0.08±0.0030.09±0.010.11±0.010.17±0.01*0.10±0.010.15±0.02*0.117±0.002
 Trabecular spacing (mm)0.11±0.01a0.12±0.02a0.40±0.03b0.40±0.100.52±0.02c0.40±0.07*0.60±0.06
 Porosity (%)1.8±0.94.0±1.12.1±0.79.1±1.8*2.2±0.68.1±2.4*1.8±0.4
 Structural model index0.12±0.020.16±0.010.17±0.030.30±0.05*0.10±0.020.22±0.07*0.05±0.03
 Trabecular pattern factor−7.6±0.8ab−9.6±2.1a−3.6±0.6bc−5.4±1.1−2.0±0.4c−4.0±1.1*−0.9±0.5
 Average object number38±724±249±1315±3*54±1027±1336±4
 Average object area (mm2)0.04±0.020.10±0.020.09±0.030.31±0.05*0.07±0.010.34±0.13*0.08±0.01
 Euler−386±34a−1072±188ab−1365±191b−733±110*−1091±201ab−583±233−623±101
 Degree of anisotropy0.11±0.03ab0.21±0.02b0.14±0.03ab0.28±0.03*0.11±0.01a0.20±0.04*0.12±0.01

Within the groups of intact fetuses and for each parameter measured, values with different superscript letters are significantly different from each other (P<0.05). *Significant difference from intact fetuses of the same gestational age (P<0.05). Significant difference from fetuses of the same treatment at 130 days of gestation (P<0.05).

Figure 2
Figure 2

Representative images of transverse section of distal metatarsal bone showing trabecular structure in (a) intact fetuses at 100, 115, and 130 days of gestation, and TX fetuses at 130 days of gestation, and (b) intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Bars represent 2 mm.

Citation: Journal of Endocrinology 210, 2; 10.1530/JOE-11-0138

Fetal TX impaired the growth of the metatarsal bone as shown by the reductions in the length and the midshaft diameter at both 130 and 144 days of gestation (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 2) and delayed ossification (Fig. 2). There were also significant differences in trabecular bone structure at both gestational ages. First, compared with control animals, the samples from the TX fetuses at 130 days of gestation showed a lower BS/BV ratio as a consequence of increased trabecular thickness (P<0.05 in both cases; Table 2; Fig. 3). At 144 days of gestation, the reduction in BS/BV seen in the TX fetuses was not significant, although there was a significant decrease in BV/TV ratio, which was associated with increases in both trabecular thickness and spacing (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 2; Fig. 3b).

Figure 3
Figure 3

Representative 3D images of metatarsal trabecular structure in (a) intact and TX fetuses at 130 days and (b) intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Bars represent=500 μm.

Citation: Journal of Endocrinology 210, 2; 10.1530/JOE-11-0138

Secondly, at both gestational ages, TX caused a significant increase in porosity and altered trabecular connectivity (P<0.05; Table 2). In the TX fetuses, the higher SMI indicated a more rod-like appearance of the bone trabeculae, whereas the lower object number and increased object area indicated that there were fewer but larger trabeculae per slice, compared with the intact fetuses (P<0.05 in all cases; Table 2; Fig. 3). Fetal TX was associated with increases in both the Euler value and the degree of anisotropy, which indicated a less connected structure and a higher level of directionality, although the change in Euler did not reach significance in the TX fetuses studied at 144 days of gestation (Table 2).

Most of the effects of TX on bone structure observed at 130 days of gestation were maintained at 144 days (Table 2). In the TX fetuses, there were no significant differences in any of the structural measurements made in trabecular bone between 130 and 144 days of gestation (Table 2). Significant decreases in midshaft diameter and CSMI were observed in the TX fetuses over the last 2 weeks of gestation (P<0.05 in both cases; Table 2). There were no significant differences between intact and AX fetuses in any of the parameters of bone structure measured at 144 days of gestation (Table 2).

Bone strength

Table 3 shows that, compared with the intact fetuses, there were no significant differences in the maximum load, maximum displacement, stiffness, energy absorbed, or stress in the metatarsal midshaft bones from the TX and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. In contrast to the cortical bone at the midshaft, the distal trabecular bone in the TX fetuses failed at a higher maximum load compared with that in the intact fetuses (P<0.05; Table 3). In addition, the trabeculae in the TX fetuses showed higher stiffness and stress than in the intact fetuses (P<0.05 in both cases; Table 3). There were no differences between intact and AX fetuses in any of the parameters studied (Table 3).

Table 3

Mean (±s.e.m.) metatarsal midshaft cortical bone and distal trabecular bone strength characteristics in the fetuses of each experimental group at tissue collection at 144 days of age

TreatmentIntactTXAX
Number of fetuses1255
Metatarsal midshaft cortical bone
 Maximum load (N)147.6±2.0132.9±24.4145.1±8.4
 Maximum displacement (mm)2.8±0.1ab2.1±0.3a3.0±0.2b
 Stiffness (N/mm)64.1±4.490.1±19.171.7±16.3
 Energy (N/mm)260±15178±46273±5
 Stress (N/mm2)2.3±0.33.1±0.71.9±0.1
Metatarsal distal trabecular bone
 Maximum load (N)5.1±1.0a18.8±2.9b8.9±1.5a
 Maximum displacement (mm)0.52±0.150.47±0.120.47±0.09
 Stiffness (N/mm)15.0±4.6a74.3±18.2b24.3±6.5a
 Energy (N/mm)0.7±0.083.5±1.51.5±0.4
 Stress (N/mm2)56.3±11.4a208.8±32.0b98.8±16.8a

For each parameter measured, values with different superscript letters are significantly different from each other (P<0.05).

Bone mineral density

No differences were found in bone mineral density at the proximal, midshaft, or distal portions of the metatarsal between any of the groups at 130 days of gestation (data not shown). There were also no differences in bone mineral density in the midshaft of the metatarsal (a region of purely cortical bone) between the groups of fetuses at 144 days of gestation (Fig. 4a). At 144 days of gestation, the distal end of the metatarsal showed significant differences in bone mineral density between the treatment groups (Fig. 4b). Lower bone density (P<0.05) was observed in the TX fetuses compared with the intact and AX fetuses for the range 0.25–0.6 g/cm3 (the range corresponding to trabecular bone; Fig. 4b). In addition, there were no differences in bone mineral density between the intact and the AX fetuses for any of the sites studied (Fig. 4).

Figure 4
Figure 4

Bone mineral density plots for (a) the midshaft and (b) the distal regions of the metatarsal bone in intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Plots are mean±s.e.m. *Significant difference of TX fetuses from intact fetuses (P<0.05).

Citation: Journal of Endocrinology 210, 2; 10.1530/JOE-11-0138

Discussion

In this study, thyroid deficiency in utero affected both the structure and the mechanical properties of metatarsal bone. Abnormalities in bone structure were observed, and several developmental changes normally seen during the last third of gestation were impaired, in the fetuses with undetectable circulating levels of T4 and T3. At the midshaft, a region of purely cortical bone, hypothyroidism led to a reduction in cortical diameter without any change in cortical thickness or bone mineral density. In the distal region of the metatarsal, fetal hypothyroidism caused the development of thicker and more closely spaced trabeculae. Near term, the trabecular structure in the TX fetuses was stronger, i.e. sustained a greater mass per unit area before fracture, and yet was more stiff and brittle, i.e. bent less before fracture, than in the intact fetuses. These changes were associated with a reduction in bone mineral density in the range corresponding to trabecular bone. It is not known whether the increased bone strength observed in the TX fetuses was due to this trabecular arrangement and/or the composition of individual struts. In human patients with hypothyroidism in adulthood, trabecular bone thickness was found to be increased by ∼30% (Eriksen et al. 1986). In both regions of metatarsal bone, the alterations in structure seen in the hypothyroid fetuses appeared, largely, to take place between the time of TX (at 105–110 days) and 130 days of gestation as there was little difference between the TX fetuses studied at 130 and 144 days. Previous studies in ovine fetuses have shown that circulating levels of T4 become undetectable from within a week of TX (Hopkins & Thorburn 1971).

No differences in bone structure or mechanical strength, or circulating markers of bone metabolism, were observed in the AX fetuses in which the prepartum rises in cortisol and T3 were prevented. These findings indicate that the prepartum rises in circulating cortisol and T3 have little influence on bone development near term. Previous studies in ovine fetuses have demonstrated that linear skeletal growth declines near to term in association with the prepartum rise in cortisol (Fowden et al. 1996). In addition, fetal AX has been shown to prevent the normal decrease in the rate of CRL growth in individual fetuses studied longitudinally (Fowden et al. 1996); although in this study, the number of AX fetuses studied may have been too small to identify changes in body and limb lengths at a single time point near term across a population of animals. Taken together, the observations from the TX and AX fetuses indicate that circulating levels of T4, rather than the prepartum rise in plasma T3, are important for normal bone development in the fetus during late gestation. However, local concentrations of T3, generated from T4 by deiodinase activity within bone, are likely to be essential for normal bone development. Indeed, it is possible that during hypothyroidism, transport of T4 into bone cells and local conversion of T4 to T3 may be upregulated in an attempt to maintain the important actions of thyroid hormones in the control of bone growth and development. In mice, maternal hypothyroidism causes increases in D2 mRNA and activity and decreases in D3 mRNA and activity, in the bones of fetuses near term (Capelo et al. 2008). Deiodinase activity has not been measured in the bones of fetal sheep, although hypothyroidism has previously been shown to increase D2 activity in the cerebral cortex of the sheep fetus in order to preserve local production of T3 important for normal brain development (Polk et al. 1988).

The changes in bone structure seen in sheep fetuses normally during the last third of gestation and in response to thyroid hormone deficiency were accompanied by changes in circulating markers of bone metabolism. Plasma levels of CTX and osteocalcin were used as indicators of osteoclast and osteoblast activities respectively. In control animals, plasma osteocalcin concentration and osteoblast activity remained high throughout the study period, as might be expected with rapid bone development. Plasma CTX and the level of osteoclast activity increased over the study period, possibly to remodel the developing bone as shown by the ontogenic alterations in bone structural parameters. In contrast, in the TX fetuses, plasma osteocalcin and osteoblast activity decreased in association with the reduction in bone development. These results suggest that the changes in bone growth and structure induced by fetal hypothyroidism are associated with impaired bone deposition rather than bone resorption.

Thyroidectomy of the sheep fetus leads to the removal of C-cells, and internal parathyroid glands, within the thyroid glands while leaving the superior parathyroid glands intact. Therefore, this procedure may have consequences for the levels of calcitonin, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and PTH-related peptide (PTH-rP) in the fetal circulation and, in turn, bone growth and development in the TX fetus. In sheep, PTH is undetectable in the fetal circulation from 80 to 145 days (term) of gestation, and calcitonin and PTH-rP are present at stable levels over this period of gestation (Collignon et al. 1996). However, the effect of TX in utero on the circulating levels of these hormones is unknown. Total plasma calcium concentration remained normal in the TX fetuses in this study, and previously, a reduction in total plasma calcium, and a reversal of the placental calcium gradient between the mother and fetus, was observed in sheep fetuses after removal of both the thyroid and the parathyroid glands, but not following TX alone with T4 replacement (Care et al. 1986, Rodda et al. 1988). In addition, mutation of the calcitonin/calcitonin gene-related peptide gene in fetal mice has no effect on skeletal weight, or growth plate morphology or gene expression, although it causes a reduction in skeletal magnesium, but not calcium, content (McDonald et al. 2004). Therefore, it appears unlikely that deficiencies in hormones other than the thyroid hormones are responsible for the changes in bone structure and strength seen in this study, although this could be confirmed by T4 replacement in the TX fetus.

Thyroid hormones may regulate normal bone growth and development before birth by a number of mechanisms that may be direct and/or indirect via other endocrine systems. For instance, thyroid hormone deficiency may influence the circulating and local production of growth factors in the fetus with consequences for tissue growth and bone development.

In fetal sheep, TX alters the expression of the genes for the growth hormone receptor, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), and IGF2 in liver and skeletal muscle (Forhead et al. 1998, 2000, 2002). Hypothyroidism in postnatal rats also reduces serum IGF1 and IGF1 protein in the growth plate (Freitas et al. 2005). In addition, thyroid hormones have been shown to influence the gene expression of PTH-rp and receptors for fibroblast growth factor in rodent chondrocytes (Stevens et al. 2000, Barnard et al. 2005). Furthermore, thyroid hormone deficiency in utero may affect general body metabolism with consequences for growth and development. In the ovine fetus, TX has previously been shown to reduce umbilical oxygen uptake and glucose oxidation (Fowden & Silver 1995). Therefore, the hypothyroid fetus appears to have less energy available to support normal growth of bones and other non-essential tissues.

In conclusion, this study demonstrates that hypothyroidism in utero causes significant changes to the structure and strength of bone in the fetus. Critically, the long-term consequences of these effects for bone development and strength in postnatal life, however, remain unknown. The delay in bone age seen in neonates diagnosed with severe CH is still evident at 12 months of age despite treatment (Dubuis et al. 1996). Furthermore, bone strength and risk of fracture in adulthood are determined both by bone turnover and by the peak bone mass acquired in pre- and postnatal development (Williams 2009). There is also evidence to suggest that the intrauterine environment can influence skeletal growth and final bone structure after birth. For example, the offspring of rats fed a low-protein diet during pregnancy have lower bone mineral content and changes to the epiphyseal growth plate and the structural and mechanical properties of the skeleton in adult life (Lanham et al. 2008). Poor intrauterine nutrition is associated with reduced circulating concentrations of thyroid hormones in the fetus (Dwyer & Stickland 1992, Rae et al. 2002), and therefore, thyroid hormone activity may contribute to the long-term consequences of the intrauterine environment on bone development, structure, and integrity before and after birth.

Declaration of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.

Funding

This work was supported by the BBRSC (grant number S18103) and Research into Ageing (grant number 253).

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the members of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, who provided technical assistance in this study. Plasma calcium was measured by Dr Keith Burling, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. The study was supported by the BBSRC and Research into Ageing.

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BarnesRJComlineRSSilverM1977The effects of bilateral adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy of the foetal lamb in utero. Journal of Physiology264429447.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BassettJHDWilliamsGR2003The molecular actions of thyroid hormone in bone. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism14356364doi:10.1016/S1043-2760(03)00144-9.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CapeloLPBeberEHHuangSAZornTMTBiancoACGouveiaCHA2008Deiodinase-mediated thyroid hormone inactivation minimizes thyroid hormone signaling in the early development of fetal skeleton. Bone43921930doi:10.1016/j.bone.2008.06.020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CareADCapleIWAbbasSKPickardDW1986The effect of fetal thyroparathyroidectomy on the transport of calcium across the ovine placenta to the fetus. Placenta7417424doi:10.1016/S0143-4004(86)80029-7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CollignonHDaviccoMJBarletJP1996Calcitonin mRNA expression and plasma calciotropic hormones in fetal lambs. Domestic Animal Endocrinology13269276doi:10.1016/0739-7240(95)00071-2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DubuisJMGlorieuxJRicherFDealCLDussaultJHVan VlietG1996Outcome of severe congenital hypothyroidism: closing the developmental gap with early high dose levothyroxine treatment. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism81222227doi:10.1210/jc.81.1.222.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DwyerCMSticklandNC1992The effects of maternal undernutrition on maternal and fetal serum insulin-like growth factors, thyroid hormones and cortisol in the guinea pig. Journal of Developmental Physiology18303313.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ErenbergAOmoriKMenkesJHOmoriWFisherDA1974Growth and development of the thyroidectomized ovine fetus. Pediatric Research8783789doi:10.1203/00006450-197409000-00001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EriksenEFMosekildeLMelsenF1986Kinetics of trabecular bone resorption and formation in hypothyroidism: evidence for a positive balance per remodeling cycle. Bone7101108doi:10.1016/8756-3282(86)90681-2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FlamantFPoguetALPlaterotiMChassandeOGauthierKStreichenbergerNMansouriASamarutJ2002Congenital hypothyroid Pax8(−/−) mutant mice can be rescued by inactivating the TR alpha gene. Molecular Endocrinolgy162432doi:10.1210/me.16.1.24.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJGilmourRSFowdenAL1998Control of hepatic insulin-like growth factor II gene expression by thyroid hormones in fetal sheep near term. American Journal of Physiology275E149E156.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJSaundersJCDaunceyMJGilmourRSFowdenAL2000Control of ovine hepatic growth hormone receptor and insulin-like growth factor I by thyroid hormones in utero. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism278E1166E1174.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJGilmourRSDaunceyMJFowdenAL2002Thyroid hormones and the mRNA of the GH receptor and IGFs in skeletal muscle of fetal sheep. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism282E80E86doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00284.2001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJCurtisKKapteinEVisserTJFowdenAL2006Developmental control of iodothyronine deiodinases by cortisol in the ovine fetus and placenta near term. Endocrinology14759885994doi:10.1210/en.2006-0712.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJJellymanJKGardnerDSGiussaniDAKapteinEVisserTJFowdenAL2007Differential effects of maternal dexamethasone treatment on circulating thyroid hormone concentrations and tissue deiodinase activity in the pregnant ewe and fetus. Endocrinology148800805doi:10.1210/en.2006-1194.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FowdenALSilverM1995The effects of thyroid-hormones on oxygen and glucose-metabolism in the sheep fetus during late-gestation. Journal of Physiology482203213.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FowdenALSzemereJHughesPGilmourRSForheadAJ1996The effects of cortisol on the growth rate of the sheep fetus during late gestation. Journal of Endocrinology15197105doi:10.1677/joe.0.1510097.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FreitasFRSCapeloLPO'SheaPJJorgettiVMoriscotASScanlanTSWilliamsGRZornTMTGouveiaCHA2005The thyroid hormone receptor beta-specific agonist GC-1 selectively affects the bone development of hypothyroid rats. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research20294304doi:10.1359/JBMR.041116.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HopkinsPSThorburnGD1971Placental permeability to maternal thyroxine in sheep. Journal of Endocrinology49549550doi:10.1677/joe.0.0490549.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HopkinsPSThorburnGD1972The effects of foetal thyroidectomy on the development of the ovine foetus. Journal of Endocrinology545566doi:10.1677/joe.0.0540055.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KratzschJPulzerF2008Thyroid gland development and defects. Best Practice & Research. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism225775doi:10.1016/j.beem.2007.08.006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LanhamSRobertsCPerryMCooperCOreffoROC2008Intrauterine programming of bone. Part 2: alteration of skeletal structure. Osteoporosis International19157167doi:10.1007/s00198-007-0448-3.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McDonaldKRFudgeNJWoodrowJPFrielJKHoffAOGagelRFKovacsCS2004Ablation of calcitonin/calcitonin gene-related peptide-alpha impairs fetal magnesium but not calcium homeostasis. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism287E218E226doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00023.2004.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PolkDH1995Thyroid-hormone metabolism during development. Reproduction Fertility and Development7469477doi:10.1071/RD9950469.

  • PolkDHWuSYWrightCReviczkyALFisherDA1988Ontogeny of thyroid-hormone effect on tissue 5′-monodeiodinase activity in fetal sheep. American Journal of Physiology254E337E341.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RaeMTRhindSMKyleCEMillerDWBrooksAN2002Maternal undernutrition alters triiodothyronine concentrations and pituitary response to GnRH in fetal sheep. Journal of Endocrinology173449455doi:10.1677/joe.0.1730449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RobinsonPMComlineRSFowdenALSilverM1983Adrenal cortex of fetal lamb: changes after hypophysectomy and effects of Synacthen on cytoarchitecture and secretory activity. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology681527.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RoddaCPKubotaMHeathJAEbelingPRMoseleyJMCareADCapleIWMartinTJ1988Evidence for a novel parathyroid hormone-related protein in fetal lamb parathyroid glands and sheep placenta: comparisons with a similar protein implicated in humoral hypercalcaemia of malignancy. Journal of Endocrinology117261271doi:10.1677/joe.0.1170261.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RovetJEhrlichRSorbaraD1987Intellectual outcome in children with fetal hypothyroidism. Journal of Pediatrics110700704doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(87)80005-7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SackJKaisermanISiebnerR1993Maternal–fetal T(4)-transfer does not suffice to prevent the effects of in-utero hypothyroidism. Hormone Research3917doi:10.1159/000182686.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StevensDAHasserjianRPRobsonHSieblerTShaletSMWilliamsGR2000Thyroid hormones regulate hypertrophic chondrocyte differentiation and expression of parathyroid hormone-related peptide and its receptor during endochondral bone formation. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research1524312442doi:10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.12.2431.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VirtanenM1988Manifestations of congenital hypothyroidism during the 1st week of life. European Journal of Pediatrics147270274doi:10.1007/BF00442693.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VulsmaTGonsMHDevijlderJJM1989Maternal fetal transfer of thyroxine in congenital hypothyroidism due to a total organification defect or thyroid agenesis. New England Journal of Medicine3211316doi:10.1056/NEJM198907063210103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilliamsGR2009Actions of thyroid hormones in bone. Endokrynologia Polska60380388.

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    Mean (±s.e.m.) plasma concentrations of (a) cortisol, (b) T4, (c) T3, (d) total calcium, (e) CTX, and (f) osteocalcin in the fetuses of each experimental group at tissue collection. Within intact fetuses, columns with different letters are significantly different from each other (P<0.05). *Significant difference from intact fetuses at the same gestational age (P<0.05). Significant difference from fetuses of the same treatment at 130 days of gestation (P<0.05).

  • View in gallery

    Representative images of transverse section of distal metatarsal bone showing trabecular structure in (a) intact fetuses at 100, 115, and 130 days of gestation, and TX fetuses at 130 days of gestation, and (b) intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Bars represent 2 mm.

  • View in gallery

    Representative 3D images of metatarsal trabecular structure in (a) intact and TX fetuses at 130 days and (b) intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Bars represent=500 μm.

  • View in gallery

    Bone mineral density plots for (a) the midshaft and (b) the distal regions of the metatarsal bone in intact, TX, and AX fetuses at 144 days of gestation. Plots are mean±s.e.m. *Significant difference of TX fetuses from intact fetuses (P<0.05).

  • AyromlooiJBergPDValderramaETobiasMD1983Midtrimester thyroidectomy in the ovine fetus. Pediatric Pharmacology31528.

  • BarnardJCWilliamsAJRabierBChassandeOSamarutJChengSYBassettJHDWilliamsGR2005Thyroid hormones regulate fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling during chondrogenesis. Endocrinology14655685580doi:10.1210/en.2005-0762.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BarnesRJComlineRSSilverM1977The effects of bilateral adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy of the foetal lamb in utero. Journal of Physiology264429447.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BassettJHDWilliamsGR2003The molecular actions of thyroid hormone in bone. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism14356364doi:10.1016/S1043-2760(03)00144-9.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CapeloLPBeberEHHuangSAZornTMTBiancoACGouveiaCHA2008Deiodinase-mediated thyroid hormone inactivation minimizes thyroid hormone signaling in the early development of fetal skeleton. Bone43921930doi:10.1016/j.bone.2008.06.020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CareADCapleIWAbbasSKPickardDW1986The effect of fetal thyroparathyroidectomy on the transport of calcium across the ovine placenta to the fetus. Placenta7417424doi:10.1016/S0143-4004(86)80029-7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CollignonHDaviccoMJBarletJP1996Calcitonin mRNA expression and plasma calciotropic hormones in fetal lambs. Domestic Animal Endocrinology13269276doi:10.1016/0739-7240(95)00071-2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DubuisJMGlorieuxJRicherFDealCLDussaultJHVan VlietG1996Outcome of severe congenital hypothyroidism: closing the developmental gap with early high dose levothyroxine treatment. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism81222227doi:10.1210/jc.81.1.222.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DwyerCMSticklandNC1992The effects of maternal undernutrition on maternal and fetal serum insulin-like growth factors, thyroid hormones and cortisol in the guinea pig. Journal of Developmental Physiology18303313.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ErenbergAOmoriKMenkesJHOmoriWFisherDA1974Growth and development of the thyroidectomized ovine fetus. Pediatric Research8783789doi:10.1203/00006450-197409000-00001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EriksenEFMosekildeLMelsenF1986Kinetics of trabecular bone resorption and formation in hypothyroidism: evidence for a positive balance per remodeling cycle. Bone7101108doi:10.1016/8756-3282(86)90681-2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FlamantFPoguetALPlaterotiMChassandeOGauthierKStreichenbergerNMansouriASamarutJ2002Congenital hypothyroid Pax8(−/−) mutant mice can be rescued by inactivating the TR alpha gene. Molecular Endocrinolgy162432doi:10.1210/me.16.1.24.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJGilmourRSFowdenAL1998Control of hepatic insulin-like growth factor II gene expression by thyroid hormones in fetal sheep near term. American Journal of Physiology275E149E156.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJSaundersJCDaunceyMJGilmourRSFowdenAL2000Control of ovine hepatic growth hormone receptor and insulin-like growth factor I by thyroid hormones in utero. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism278E1166E1174.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJLiJGilmourRSDaunceyMJFowdenAL2002Thyroid hormones and the mRNA of the GH receptor and IGFs in skeletal muscle of fetal sheep. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism282E80E86doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00284.2001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJCurtisKKapteinEVisserTJFowdenAL2006Developmental control of iodothyronine deiodinases by cortisol in the ovine fetus and placenta near term. Endocrinology14759885994doi:10.1210/en.2006-0712.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ForheadAJJellymanJKGardnerDSGiussaniDAKapteinEVisserTJFowdenAL2007Differential effects of maternal dexamethasone treatment on circulating thyroid hormone concentrations and tissue deiodinase activity in the pregnant ewe and fetus. Endocrinology148800805doi:10.1210/en.2006-1194.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FowdenALSilverM1995The effects of thyroid-hormones on oxygen and glucose-metabolism in the sheep fetus during late-gestation. Journal of Physiology482203213.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FowdenALSzemereJHughesPGilmourRSForheadAJ1996The effects of cortisol on the growth rate of the sheep fetus during late gestation. Journal of Endocrinology15197105doi:10.1677/joe.0.1510097.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FreitasFRSCapeloLPO'SheaPJJorgettiVMoriscotASScanlanTSWilliamsGRZornTMTGouveiaCHA2005The thyroid hormone receptor beta-specific agonist GC-1 selectively affects the bone development of hypothyroid rats. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research20294304doi:10.1359/JBMR.041116.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HopkinsPSThorburnGD1971Placental permeability to maternal thyroxine in sheep. Journal of Endocrinology49549550doi:10.1677/joe.0.0490549.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HopkinsPSThorburnGD1972The effects of foetal thyroidectomy on the development of the ovine foetus. Journal of Endocrinology545566doi:10.1677/joe.0.0540055.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KratzschJPulzerF2008Thyroid gland development and defects. Best Practice & Research. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism225775doi:10.1016/j.beem.2007.08.006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LanhamSRobertsCPerryMCooperCOreffoROC2008Intrauterine programming of bone. Part 2: alteration of skeletal structure. Osteoporosis International19157167doi:10.1007/s00198-007-0448-3.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McDonaldKRFudgeNJWoodrowJPFrielJKHoffAOGagelRFKovacsCS2004Ablation of calcitonin/calcitonin gene-related peptide-alpha impairs fetal magnesium but not calcium homeostasis. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism287E218E226doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00023.2004.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PolkDH1995Thyroid-hormone metabolism during development. Reproduction Fertility and Development7469477doi:10.1071/RD9950469.

  • PolkDHWuSYWrightCReviczkyALFisherDA1988Ontogeny of thyroid-hormone effect on tissue 5′-monodeiodinase activity in fetal sheep. American Journal of Physiology254E337E341.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RaeMTRhindSMKyleCEMillerDWBrooksAN2002Maternal undernutrition alters triiodothyronine concentrations and pituitary response to GnRH in fetal sheep. Journal of Endocrinology173449455doi:10.1677/joe.0.1730449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RobinsonPMComlineRSFowdenALSilverM1983Adrenal cortex of fetal lamb: changes after hypophysectomy and effects of Synacthen on cytoarchitecture and secretory activity. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology681527.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RoddaCPKubotaMHeathJAEbelingPRMoseleyJMCareADCapleIWMartinTJ1988Evidence for a novel parathyroid hormone-related protein in fetal lamb parathyroid glands and sheep placenta: comparisons with a similar protein implicated in humoral hypercalcaemia of malignancy. Journal of Endocrinology117261271doi:10.1677/joe.0.1170261.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RovetJEhrlichRSorbaraD1987Intellectual outcome in children with fetal hypothyroidism. Journal of Pediatrics110700704doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(87)80005-7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SackJKaisermanISiebnerR1993Maternal–fetal T(4)-transfer does not suffice to prevent the effects of in-utero hypothyroidism. Hormone Research3917doi:10.1159/000182686.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StevensDAHasserjianRPRobsonHSieblerTShaletSMWilliamsGR2000Thyroid hormones regulate hypertrophic chondrocyte differentiation and expression of parathyroid hormone-related peptide and its receptor during endochondral bone formation. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research1524312442doi:10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.12.2431.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VirtanenM1988Manifestations of congenital hypothyroidism during the 1st week of life. European Journal of Pediatrics147270274doi:10.1007/BF00442693.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VulsmaTGonsMHDevijlderJJM1989Maternal fetal transfer of thyroxine in congenital hypothyroidism due to a total organification defect or thyroid agenesis. New England Journal of Medicine3211316doi:10.1056/NEJM198907063210103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilliamsGR2009Actions of thyroid hormones in bone. Endokrynologia Polska60380388.