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Crit Rev Immunol. 2001;21(4):323-37.

Immune function of thyroid stimulating hormone and receptor.

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University of Texas Health Science Center, Department of Basic Sciences, Dental Branch, Houston 77030, USA.


Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is a central component of the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. Although TSH is known for its important biological effects as a neuroendocrine used to regulate thyroid hormone activity and subsequent metabolic functions, TSH also has been shown to be produced and used by cells ofthe mammalian immune system. Moreover, recent findings have linked the use of TSH by cells of the immune system in humans and mice to a group of monocytic cells and lymphocytes--primarily dendritic cells, macrophages, and subset of naïve peripheral T cells. Other studies have demonstrated the capacity of dendritic cells and monocytes to produce biologically active TSH, thereby pointing to a process of paracrine or autocrine TSH-mediated communication during the earliest stages of an immune response to antigen. In this article, these and other features of TSH immune-endocrine interactions are discussed in the context of an intrinsic TSH immunological pathway. Additionally, a hypothesis is proposed in which TSH produced by cells of the immune system during acute antigen exposure plays a dual role, consisting on the one hand of TSH communication during antigen-driven immune activation while concomitantly serving to regulate physiological homeostasis by modulating and adjusting thyroid hormone activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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