Background: The thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) is known to affect energy balance. Recent evidence points to an action of T3 in the hypothalamus, a key area of the brain involved in energy homeostasis, but the components and mechanisms are far from understood. The aim of this study was to identify components in the hypothalamus that may be involved in the action of T3 on energy balance regulatory mechanisms. Methods: Sprague Dawley rats were made hypothyroid by giving 0.025% methimazole (MMI) in their drinking water for 22 days. On day 21, half the MMI-treated rats received a saline injection, whereas the others were injected with T3. Food intake and body weight measurements were taken daily. Body composition was determined by magnetic resonance imaging, gene expression was analyzed by in situ hybridization, and T3-induced gene expression was determined by microarray analysis of MMI-treated compared to MMI-T3-injected hypothalamic RNA. Results: Post mortem serum thyroid hormone levels showed that MMI treatment decreased circulating thyroid hormones and increased thyrotropin (TSH). MMI treatment decreased food intake and body weight. Body composition analysis revealed reduced lean and fat mass in thyroidectomized rats from day 14 of the experiment. MMI treatment caused a decrease in circulating triglyceride concentrations, an increase in nonesterified fatty acids, and decreased insulin levels. A glucose tolerance test showed impaired glucose clearance in the thyroidectomized animals. In the brain, in situ hybridization revealed marked changes in gene expression, including genes such as Mct8, a thyroid hormone transporter, and Agrp, a key component in energy balance regulation. Microarray analysis revealed 110 genes to be up- or downregulated with T3 treatment (±1.3-fold change, p<0.05). Three genes chosen from the differentially expressed genes were verified by in situ hybridization to be activated by T3 in cells located at or close to the hypothalamic ventricular ependymal layer and differentially expressed in animal models of long- and short-term body weight regulation. Conclusion: This study identified genes regulated by T3 in the hypothalamus, a key area of the brain involved in homeostasis and neuroendocrine functions. These include genes hitherto not known to be regulated by thyroid status.
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Sep 2014|
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- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health - Personal Professor