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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2002 Mar;282(3):L359-69.

Thyroid hormone affects embryonic mouse lung branching morphogenesis and cellular differentiation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Newborn Medicine, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Although thyroid hormone (T(3)) influences epithelial cell differentiation during late fetal lung development, its effects on early lung morphogenesis are unknown. We hypothesized that T(3) would alter embryonic lung airway branching and temporal-spatial differentiation of the lung epithelium and mesenchyme. Gestational day 11.5 embryonic mouse lungs were cultured for 72 h in BGJb serum-free medium without or with added T(3) (0.2, 2.0, 10.0, or 100 nM). Evaluation of terminal bud counts showed a dose- and time-dependent decrease in branching morphogenesis. Cell proliferation was also significantly decreased with higher doses of T(3). Morphometric analysis of lung histology showed that T(3) caused a dose-dependent decrease in mesenchyme and increase in cuboidal epithelia and airway space. Immunocytochemistry showed that with T(3) treatment, Nkx2.1 and surfactant protein SP-C proteins became progressively localized to cuboidal epithelial cells and mesenchymal expression of Hoxb5 was reduced, a pattern resembling late fetal lung development. We conclude that exogenous T(3) treatment during early lung development accelerated epithelial and mesenchymal cell differentiation at the expense of premature reduction in new branch formation and lung growth.

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