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Eur J Endocrinol. 1995 Oct;133(4):390-8.

Thyroid hormones and brain development.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biom├ędicas, Madrid, Spain.


Thyroid hormone is a major physiological regulator of mammalian brain development. Cell differentiation, migration and gene expression are altered as a consequence of thyroid hormone deficiency or excess. The physiological role of thyroid hormone can perhaps be defined so as to ensure the timed coordination of different developmental events through specific effects on the rate of cell differentiation and gene expression. All triiodothyronine (T3) receptor isoforms are expressed in the brain and their spatial and temporal patterns of expression suggest unique and complementary functions for the different isoforms. Cell biology studies suggest a role for T3 and its receptors in oligodendroglial and neuronal differentiation and the control of cell death. Some of the effects on neuronal differentiation might be due to an action of thyroid hormone on the production of neurotropins and their receptors. In recent years a number of T3-dependent genes have been identified in the rat brain, such as myelin protein-encoding genes or specific neuronal genes, and thyroid hormone-responsive elements have been demonstrated in some of these genes. The identification of the gene network regulated by thyroid hormone during brain development, the elucidation of the mechanism of regulation and the clarification of the physiological roles of the regulated genes remain major goals for future studies.

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