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J Endocrinol. 2006 May;189(2):189-97.

Thyroid hormone and astrocyte morphogenesis.

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Departatmento Biologia Celular, Embriologia e Genética, Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, 88040-900, Trindade, Florianópolis, S.C., Brazil.


Astrocyte cells clearly play a role in neural development, but nowadays their total action is seen as a far wider one. Recent findings consider them as stem cells, involved in the control of most facets of functional neural networks. Astrocytes play a central role in thyroid hormone metabolism in the brain, being the principal transporters of thyroxine from the blood, responsible for its conversion to 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine and hence supplying the neural tissues with the biologically active form of the hormone. Specific thyroid hormone transporters play an essential role in this regulatory system. The presence of thyroid hormone receptors has been demonstrated in cultured astrocytes. Furthermore, thyroid hormone regulates several aspects of astrocyte differentiation and maturation, including the production of extracellular matrix proteins and growth factors, and thus controls neuronal growth and neuritogenesis. Therefore, astrocytes are currently suggested as important mediators of thyroid hormone in neuronal development.

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