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Endocr Connect. 2018 Apr;7(4):R160-R186. doi: 10.1530/EC-18-0029. Epub 2018 Mar 23.

Thyroid-disrupting chemicals and brain development: an update.

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CNRS/UMR7221Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France.
CNRS/UMR7221Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France


This review covers recent findings on the main categories of thyroid hormone-disrupting chemicals and their effects on brain development. We draw mostly on epidemiological and experimental data published in the last decade. For each chemical class considered, we deal with not only the thyroid hormone-disrupting effects but also briefly mention the main mechanisms by which the same chemicals could modify estrogen and/or androgen signalling, thereby exacerbating adverse effects on endocrine-dependent developmental programmes. Further, we emphasize recent data showing how maternal thyroid hormone signalling during early pregnancy affects not only offspring IQ, but also neurodevelopmental disease risk. These recent findings add to established knowledge on the crucial importance of iodine and thyroid hormone for optimal brain development. We propose that prenatal exposure to mixtures of thyroid hormone-disrupting chemicals provides a plausible biological mechanism contributing to current increases in the incidence of neurodevelopmental disease and IQ loss.


endocrine disruptors; neuroendocrinology; thyroid

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