Thyroid hormones (THs) are vital for vertebrate brain function throughout life, from early development to ageing. Epidemiological studies show an adequate supply of maternal TH during pregnancy to be necessary for normal brain development, and this from the first trimester of onwards. Maternal TH deficiency irreversibly affects fetal brain development, increasing the risk of offspring cognitive disorders and IQ loss. Mammalian and non-mammalian (zebrafish, xenopus, chicken) models are useful to dissect TH-dependent cellular and molecular mechanisms governing embryonic and fetal brain development: a complex process including cell proliferation, survival, determination, migration, differentiation and maturation of neural stem cells (NSCs). Notably, rodent models have strongly contributed to understand the key neurogenic roles of TH still at work in adult life. Neurogenesis continues in two main areas, the sub-ventricular zone lining the lateral ventricles (essential for olfaction) and the sub-granular zone in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (involved in memory, learning and mood control). In both niches, THs tightly regulate the balance between neurogenesis and oligodendrogenesis under physiological and pathological contexts. Understanding how THs modulate NSCs determination toward a neuronal or a glial fate throughout life is a crucial question in neural stem cell biology. Providing answers to this question can offer therapeutic strategies for brain repair, notably in neurodegenerative diseases, demyelinating diseases or stroke where new neurons and/or oligodendrocytes are required. The review focuses on TH regulation of NSC fate in mammals and humans both during development and in the adult.
© Société de Biologie, 2019.