Chapter 2 Thyroid Hormone Synthesis And Secretion

In: Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000.


The main function of the thyroid gland is to make hormones, T4 and T3, which are essential for the regulation of metabolic processes throughout the body. As at any factory, effective production depends on three key components - adequate raw material, efficient machinery, and appropriate controls. Iodine is the critical raw material, because 65% of T4 weight is iodine. Ingested iodine is absorbed and carried in the circulation as iodide. The thyroid actively concentrates the iodide across the basolateral plasma membrane of thyrocytes by the sodium/iodide symporter, NIS. Intracellular iodide is then transported in the lumen of thyroid follicles. Meanwhile, the thyrocyte endoplasmic reticulum synthesizes two key proteins, TPO and Tg. Tg is a 660kDa glycoprotein secreted into the lumen of follicles, whose tyrosyls serve as substrate for iodination and hormone formation. TPO sits at the apical plasma membrane, where it reduces H2O2, elevating the oxidation state of iodide to an iodinating species, and attaches the iodine to tyrosyls in Tg. H2O2 is generated at the apex of the thyrocyte by Duox, a NADPH oxydase. Initial iodination of Tg produces MIT and DIT. Further iodination couples two residues of DIT, both still in peptide linkage, to produce T4, principally at residues 5 in the Tg polypeptide chain. When thyroid hormone is needed, Tg is internalized at the apical pole of thyrocytes, conveyed to endosomes and lysosomes and digested by proteases, particularly the endopeptidases cathepsins B, L, D and exopeptidases. After Tg digestion, T4 and T3 are released into the circulation. Nonhormonal iodine, about 70% of Tg iodine, is retrieved intrathyroidally by DEHAL1, an iodotyrosine deiodinase and made available for recycling within the gland. TSH is the stimulator that affects virtually every stage of thyroid hormone synthesis and release. Early control involves the direct activation of the cellular and enzymatic machineries while delayed and chronic controls are on gene expression of key proteins. Iodine supply, either too much or too little, impairs adequate synthesis. Antithyroid drugs act by interfering with iodide oxidation. Genetic abnormalities in any of the key proteins, particularly NIS, TPO, Duox and Tg, can produce goiter and hypothyroidism. For complete coverage of this and related areas in Endocrinology, please visit our free web-book,

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