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Ann Anat. 1997 Oct;179(5):421-31.

Potassium bromide and the thyroid gland of the rat: morphology and immunohistochemistry, RIA and INAA analysis.

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Department of Cell Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.


The increasing environmental concentration of bromine has resulted in attempts to obtain information on its possibly deleterious effect on humans, particularly on a major target organ of this halogen i.e. the thyroid gland. In order to establish the morphological and functional effects of bromine on the thyroid, we have performed experiments on male rats which, in addition to a standard diet with an estimated iodine/bromine content, were fed for periods of 16 and 66 days with the small quantities of bromide expected to be encountered in the environment (10, 50 and 100 mg of Br-/l in drinking water). This treatment induced growth of the follicular epithelial component and microfollicular tissue rearrangement, a reduction of intrafollicular colloid, an increase in the height of the follicular cells and the number of mitoses, and it enhanced vascularization. Image analysis revealed a significant reduction in the volume of colloid, despite the accompanying rise in the number of minute follicles. The immunohistochemical positivity of the thyroglobulin fell in the microfollicular colloid of the exposed animals, although this was affected to a lesser extent in the larger follicles. The concentration of bromine in the thyroid increased with the amount of bromine intake, while at the same time the molar ratio of iodine/bromine decreased. The plasma level of T4 was lowered after both 16 and 66 days of treatment, but the T3 level only after 66 days treatment. The level of TSH did not exhibit any significant change. The observed changes, which have a parenchymatous goitre-like character, may have a direct relevance for human medicine, since the concentrations of bromide chosen in these experiments are readily encountered in the environment.

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