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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Tissue iodothyronine levels in fetuses of control and hypothyroid rats at 13 and 16 days gestation.

Some investigators have reported that there is minimal placental transport of thyroid hormones in humans and rats. Consequently, it was thought that thyroid hormones were not present in the fetal brain before fetal thyroid hormone synthesis and, hence, were not important for brain development before fetal thyroid hormonogenesis. Recently, however, thyroid hormones have been detected by 14 days postconception (dpc) in the rat fetus and by 11 dpc in the rat embryotrophoblast. Thyroid hormone receptors have been shown in the fetal rat by 14 dpc. The present experiments were designed to determine if T4, T3, and their metabolites can be detected in rat fetuses at 13 and 16 dpc and if iodothyronines are selectively accumulated in fetal brain and liver. Furthermore, one group of dams was radiothyroidectomized before breeding to ascertain the effect of maternal hypothyroxinemia on fetal tissue iodothyronine concentrations. Tissue iodothyronines were extracted and measured by HPLC. T4, T3, rT3, and 3,5-diiodothyronine were well within the limits of detection by this procedure at both fetal ages. The only possible source of these hormones is the mother. In addition, if maternal serum T4 levels are low, fetal tissue T4 and T3 levels are low. The presence of high intracellular T3 levels, even at 13 dpc, shows that 5'-monodeiodination occurs in the midgestational fetus. Intracellular hormone measurements show that T3, rather than rT3, is the predominant intracellular iodothyronine in the rat fetus. Both brain and liver selectively accumulate T4 and T3, supporting the observations of others that fetal thyroid hormone receptors are present in midgestation. The presence of thyroid hormones in fetal rat brain by 13 dpc coupled with the observation that hormone receptors are present by 14 dpc suggests that thyroid hormones do play a role in midgestational brain development. These data show that normal maternal serum thyroid hormone levels are important during midgestation to provide adequate thyroid hormones to the fetus.[1]


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