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Horm Behav. 2014 Feb;65(2):88-96. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.11.008. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Thyroid hormones regulate anxiety in the male mouse.

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Neuroscience Program, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA. Electronic address:


Thyroid hormone levels are implicated in mood disorders in the adult human but the mechanisms remain unclear partly because, in rodent models, more attention has been paid to the consequences of perinatal hypo and hyperthyroidism. Thyroid hormones act via the thyroid hormone receptor (TR) α and β isoforms, both of which are expressed in the limbic system. TR's modulate gene expression via both unliganded and liganded actions. Though the thyroid hormone receptor (TR) knockouts and a transgenic TRα1 knock-in mouse have provided us valuable insight into behavioral phenotypes such as anxiety and depression, it is not clear if this is because of the loss of unliganded actions or liganded actions of the receptor or due to locomotor deficits. We used a hypothyroid mouse model and supplementation with tri-iodothyronine (T3) or thyroxine (T4) to investigate the consequences of dysthyroid hormone levels on behaviors that denote anxiety. Our data from the open field and the light-dark transition tests suggest that adult onset hypothyroidism in male mice produces a mild anxiogenic effect that is possibly due to unliganded receptor actions. T3 or T4 supplementation reverses this phenotype and euthyroid animals show anxiety that is intermediate between the hypothyroid and thyroid hormone supplemented groups. In addition, T3 but not T4 supplemented animals have lower spine density in the CA1 region of the hippocampus and in the central amygdala suggesting that T3-mediated rescue of the hypothyroid state might be due to lower neuronal excitability in the limbic circuit.


Amygdala; Anxiety testing; Dendritic spine density; Hippocampus; Thyroid hormone receptor; Thyroid hormones

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