Expression of the thyroid hormone transporters monocarboxylate transporter-8 (SLC16A2) and organic ion transporter-14 (SLCO1C1) at the blood-brain barrier

Endocrinology. 2008 Dec;149(12):6251-61. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0378. Epub 2008 Aug 7.


Thyroid hormones require transport across cell membranes to carry out their biological functions. The importance of transport for thyroid hormone signaling was highlighted by the discovery that inactivating mutations in the human monocarboxylate transporter-8 (MCT8) (SLC16A2) cause severe psychomotor retardation due to thyroid hormone deficiency in the central nervous system. It has been reported that Mct8 expression in the mouse brain is restricted to neurons, leading to the model that organic ion transporter polypeptide-14 (OATP14, also known as OATP1C1/SLCO1C1) is the primary thyroid hormone transporter at the blood-brain barrier, whereas MCT8 mediates thyroid hormone uptake into neurons. In contrast to these reports, we report here that in addition to neuronal expression, MCT8 mRNA and protein are expressed in cerebral microvessels in human, mouse, and rat. In addition, OATP14 mRNA and protein are strongly enriched in mouse and rat cerebral microvessels but not in human microvessels. In rat, Mct8 and Oatp14 proteins localize to both the luminal and abluminal microvessel membranes. In human and rodent choroid plexus epithelial cells, MCT8 is concentrated on the epithelial cell apical surface and OATP14 localizes primarily to the basal-lateral surface. Mct8 and Oatp14 expression was also observed in mouse and rat tanycytes, which are thought to form a barrier between hypothalamic blood vessels and brain. These results raise the possibility that reduced thyroid hormone transport across the blood-brain barrier contributes to the neurological deficits observed in affected patients with MCT8 mutations. The high microvessel expression of OATP14 in rodent compared with human brain may contribute to the relatively mild phenotype observed in Mct8-null mice, in contrast to humans lacking functional MCT8.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebrum / blood supply
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microvessels / cytology
  • Microvessels / metabolism
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / genetics
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism
  • Organic Anion Transporters / genetics
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Symporters


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins
  • SLC16A2 protein, human
  • SLCO1C1 protein, human
  • Slc16a2 protein, mouse
  • Slco1c1 protein, rat
  • Symporters