Metabolism of bromide and its interference with the metabolism of iodine

Physiol Res. 2004;53 Suppl 1:S81-90.


The present knowledge about the metabolism of bromide with respect to its goitrogenic effects, including some conclusions drawn from our recent research on this subject, is reviewed. Firstly, the biological behavior of bromide ion is compared with that of chloride and iodide. Secondly, the details about distribution and kinetics of bromide ions in the body and in 15 different organs and tissues of the rat are given. Significant correlation between the values of the steady-state concentration of bromide in the respective tissue and of the corresponding biological half-life was found in most tissues examined. A remarkably high concentration of radiobromide was found in the skin, which represents, due to its large mass, the most abundant depot of bromide in the body of the rat. Thirdly, the effects of excessive bromide on the rat thyroid are summarized, along with the interference of exogenous bromide with the whole-body metabolism of iodine. It is suggested that high levels of bromide in the organism of experimental animals can influence their iodine metabolism in two parallel ways: by a decrease in iodide accumulation in the thyroid and skin (and in the mammary glands in lactating dams), and by a rise in iodide excretion by kidneys. By accelerating the renal excretion of iodide, excessive bromide can also influence the pool of exchangeable iodide in the thyroid. Finally, our recent results concerning the influence of high bromide intake in the lactating rat dam on iodine and bromide transfer to the suckling, and the impact of seriously decreased iodine content and increased bromide concentration in mother's milk on the young are discussed. We must state, however, that the virtue of the toxic effects of excessive bromide on the thyroid gland and its interference with the biosynthesis of thyroid hormones, as well as the exact mechanism of bromide interference with postnatal developmental processes remains to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antithyroid Agents / metabolism*
  • Bromides / metabolism*
  • Bromides / pharmacokinetics
  • Bromides / pharmacology
  • Bromine Radioisotopes
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency
  • Iodine / metabolism*
  • Iodine / pharmacokinetics
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Lactation
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Whole-Body Counting


  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Bromides
  • Bromine Radioisotopes
  • Chlorides
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Iodine