Developmental changes in rat brain 5'-deiodinase and thyroid hormones during the fetal period: the effects of fetal hypothyroidism and maternal thyroid hormones

Pediatr Res. 1988 Nov;24(5):588-94. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198811000-00010.


We have studied the ontogenesis of 5'-deiodinase (5'D) activity in rat brain during fetal life, its capacity to respond to maternal or fetal hypothyroidism, and its regulation by maternal thyroid hormones. Type II 5'D (5' D-II) activity increases 4-fold during the period studied (17 to 22 days of gestation), mainly between days 19 and 21. Fetal brain T4 concentrations increase in parallel with fetal plasma T4, whereas fetal brain T3 concentrations increase 18 times (days 17-21), six times more than would have been expected from the small increase in fetal plasma T3 levels. Maternal thyroidectomy did not affect 5'D-II activity or thyroid hormone concentrations in fetal brain (except brain T4 at 18 days of gestation). Fetal hypothyroidism, induced by giving a goitrogen (methimazole) to the mothers, depleted all fetal tissues studied, including the fetal thyroid, from thyroid hormones. By 19 days of gestation, the fetal brain was able to respond to hypothyroidism with a 3- to 5-fold increase in 5'D-II activity. Earlier onset of treatment with methimazole led to 2- to 3-fold increases in 5'D already at 17 and 18 days of gestation, showing that when fetal thyroid secretion starts the fetal brain 5'D-II is able to respond to hypothyroidism. Replacement of methimazole-treated mothers with physiological doses of T4, given by constant infusion, increased T4 and T3 concentrations in fetal brain, and inhibited fetal, as well as maternal, brain 5'D-II activity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Hypothyroidism / enzymology*
  • Hypothyroidism / metabolism
  • Iodide Peroxidase / analysis*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Thyroid Hormones / analysis*


  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Iodide Peroxidase