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Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013 May;9(5):296-307. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.58. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Making sense with thyroid hormone--the role of T(3) in auditory development.

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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, Laboratory of Endocrinology and Receptor Biology, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The senses are our window to the world, our interface with the habitat in which we live in and the basis for our communication with each other. Although sensory systems are not generally viewed as major targets of endocrine regulation, sensory development is profoundly influenced by thyroid hormone (T(3)) signalling. In this article, we discuss this developmental role of T(3) and highlight the auditory system as the best-studied example of the interplay between systemic and local tissue mechanisms by which T(3) stimulates the onset of sensory function. Several genes that mediate the action of T(3) are known to promote sensory development in mice, including genes that encode T(3) receptors and deiodinase enzymes that amplify or deplete levels of T(3). We also discuss the current knowledge of sensory defects in human genetic disorders in which T(3) signalling is impaired. As sensory input provides the only means of acquiring information from the environment, the stimulation of sensory development is one of the most fundamental functions of T(3) signalling.

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