Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Dec;299(6):E976-89. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00448.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

Maintenance of the thyroid axis during diet-induced obesity in rodents is controlled at the central level.

Author information

Div. of Endocrinology, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02903, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Feb;300(2):E422.


The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis is a major contributor in maintaining energy expenditure and body weight, and the adipocyte hormone leptin regulates this axis by increasing TRH levels in the fed state. Leptin stimulates TRH directly in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN; direct pathway) and indirectly by regulating proopiomelnocortin neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC; indirect pathway). Whereas the indirect pathway is fully functional in lean animals, it is inactive during diet-induced obesity (DIO) because of the establishment of leptin resistance. Despite this, the HPT axis activity in obese humans and rodents remains within the normal levels or slightly higher. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to determine the mechanism(s) by which the HPT axis is still active despite leptin resistance. With a combination of using the Sprague-Dawley rat physiological model and the Zuker rat that bears a mutation in the leptin receptor, we were able to demonstrate that under DIO conditions the HPT axis is regulated at the central level, but only through the direct pathway of leptin action on TRH neurons. Deiodinase enzymes, which are present in many tissues and responsible for converting thyroid hormones, were not statistically different between lean and DIO animals. These data suggest that the increase in T(4/3) seen in obese animals is due mostly to central leptin action. We also found that T(3) feedback inhibition on the prepro-TRH gene is controlled partially by leptin-induced pSTAT3 signaling via the TRH promoter. This interactive relationship between T(3) and pSTAT3 signaling appears essential to maintain the HPT axis at normal levels in conditions such as obesity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center