Thyroid hormone regulation of adult neural stem cell fate: A comparative analysis between rodents and primates

Vitam Horm. 2021;116:133-192. doi: 10.1016/bs.vh.2021.02.009. Epub 2021 Mar 11.


Thyroid hormone (TH) signaling, a highly conserved pathway across vertebrates, is crucial for brain development and function throughout life. In the adult mammalian brain, including that of humans, multipotent neural stem cells (NSCs) proliferate and generate neuronal and glial progenitors. The role of TH has been intensively investigated in the two main neurogenic niches of the adult mouse brain, the subventricular and the subgranular zone. A key finding is that T3, the biologically active form of THs, promotes NSC commitment toward a neuronal fate. In this review, we first discuss the roles of THs in the regulation of adult rodent neurogenesis, as well as how it relates to functional behavior, notably olfaction and cognition. Most research uncovering these roles of TH in adult neurogenesis was conducted in rodents, whose genetic background, brain structure and rate of neurogenesis are considerably different from that of humans. To bridge the phylogenetic gap, we also explore the similarities and divergences of TH-dependent adult neurogenesis in non-human primate models. Lastly, we examine how photoperiodic length changes TH homeostasis, and how that might affect adult neurogenesis in seasonal species to increase fitness. Several aspects by which TH acts on adult NSCs seem to be conserved among mammals, while we only start to uncover the molecular pathways, as well as how other in- and extrinsic factors are intertwined. A multispecies approach delivering more insights in the matter will pave the way for novel NSC-based therapies to combat neurological disorders.

Keywords: Adult neural stem cell; Cognition; Olfaction; Photoperiod; Primate; Reproduction; Rodent; Thyroid hormone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Primates / metabolism
  • Rodentia* / metabolism
  • Thyroid Hormones / physiology


  • Thyroid Hormones