The flavonoid quercetin inhibits thyroid-restricted genes expression and thyroid function

Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Apr:66:23-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.01.016. Epub 2014 Jan 18.


Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid present in a broad range of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, quercetin is available as dietary supplements that are based on its antioxidant, antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory properties. However, concerns have been raised about the potential toxic effects of excessive intake of quercetin, and several studies have demonstrated that flavonoids, included quercetin, can interfere with thyroid function. In a previous report, we showed that quercetin inhibits thyroid-cell growth and iodide uptake. The latter effect was associated with down-regulation of sodium/iodide symporter gene expression. In the present study, we have evaluated the effects of quercetin on the expression of other thyroid-restricted genes, and we show that quercetin decreases the expression of the thyrotropin receptor, thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin genes. We further investigated the inhibitory effects of quercetin on thyroid function in vivo through evaluation of radioiodine uptake in the Sprague-Dawley rat, which was significantly decreased after 14 days of quercetin treatment. These data confirm that quercetin can act as a thyroid disruptor, and they suggest that caution is needed in its supplemental and therapeutic use.

Keywords: Endocrine disruptor; FRTL-5; Quercetin; Radioiodide uptake; Rat; Thyroid.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • RNA / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology


  • RNA
  • Quercetin