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In the bloodstream, less than one percent of the circulating T 3 and T 4 remains unbound. This free T 3 and T 4 can cross the lipid bilayer of cell membranes and be taken up by cells. The remaining 99 percent of circulating T 3 and T 4 is bound to specialized transport proteins called thyroxine-binding globulins (TBGs), to albumin, or to other plasma proteins. This “packaging” prevents their free diffusion into body cells. When blood levels of T 3 and T 4 begin to decline, bound T 3 and T 4 are released from these plasma proteins and readily cross the membrane of target cells. T 3 is more potent than T 4 , and many cells convert T 4 to T 3 through the removal of an iodine atom.

Regulation of th synthesis

The release of T 3 and T 4 from the thyroid gland is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). As shown in [link] , low blood levels of T 3 and T 4 stimulate the release of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus, which triggers secretion of TSH from the anterior pituitary. In turn, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete T 3 and T 4 . The levels of TRH, TSH, T 3 , and T 4 are regulated by a negative feedback system in which increasing levels of T 3 and T 4 decrease the production and secretion of TSH.

Classic negative feedback loop

This diagram illustrates a negative feedback loop. It shows the general steps of a negative feedback loop at the center (imbalance, hormone release, correction, and negative feedback) using the example of the hormone cascade that regulates metabolic rate. The hypothalamus releases TRH in response to low metabolic rate and or low T three and T four concentrations in the blood (imbalance). This triggers TSH release by the pituitary (hormone release). The TSH travels to the thyroid where it triggers T three and T four release by the thyroid cells. T three and T four increase basal metabolic rate of the body cells and cause a rise in body temperature (the calorigenic effect). T three and T four then feed back to the hypothalamus and inhibits TRH and TSH release. If metabolic rate is high and or T three and T four concentrations are low, then the hypothalamus stops releasing TRH (negative feedback). As a result, the anterior pituitary will not release TSH and no T three or T four will be produced by the thyroid.
A classic negative feedback loop controls the regulation of thyroid hormone levels.

Functions of thyroid hormones

The thyroid hormones, T 3 and T 4 , are often referred to as metabolic hormones because their levels influence the body’s basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy used by the body at rest. When T 3 and T 4 bind to intracellular receptors located on the mitochondria, they cause an increase in nutrient breakdown and the use of oxygen to produce ATP. In addition, T 3 and T 4 initiate the transcription of genes involved in glucose oxidation. Although these mechanisms prompt cells to produce more ATP, the process is inefficient, and an abnormally increased level of heat is released as a byproduct of these reactions. This so-called calorigenic effect (calor- = “heat”) raises body temperature.

Adequate levels of thyroid hormones are also required for protein synthesis and for fetal and childhood tissue development and growth. They are especially critical for normal development of the nervous system both in utero and in early childhood, and they continue to support neurological function in adults. As noted earlier, these thyroid hormones have a complex interrelationship with reproductive hormones, and deficiencies can influence libido, fertility, and other aspects of reproductive function. Finally, thyroid hormones increase the body’s sensitivity to catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) from the adrenal medulla by upregulation of receptors in the blood vessels. When levels of T 3 and T 4 hormones are excessive, this effect accelerates the heart rate, strengthens the heartbeat, and increases blood pressure. Because thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, heat production, protein synthesis, and many other body functions, thyroid disorders can have severe and widespread consequences.

Disorders of the…

Endocrine system: iodine deficiency, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism

As discussed above, dietary iodine is required for the synthesis of T 3 and T 4 . But for much of the world’s population, foods do not provide adequate levels of this mineral, because the amount varies according to the level in the soil in which the food was grown, as well as the irrigation and fertilizers used. Marine fish and shrimp tend to have high levels because they concentrate iodine from seawater, but many people in landlocked regions lack access to seafood. Thus, the primary source of dietary iodine in many countries is iodized salt. Fortification of salt with iodine began in the United States in 1924, and international efforts to iodize salt in the world’s poorest nations continue today.

Dietary iodine deficiency can result in the impaired ability to synthesize T 3 and T 4 , leading to a variety of severe disorders. When T 3 and T 4 cannot be produced, TSH is secreted in increasing amounts. As a result of this hyperstimulation, thyroglobulin accumulates in the thyroid gland follicles, increasing their deposits of colloid. The accumulation of colloid increases the overall size of the thyroid gland, a condition called a goiter    ( [link] ). A goiter is only a visible indication of the deficiency. Other iodine deficiency disorders include impaired growth and development, decreased fertility, and prenatal and infant death. Moreover, iodine deficiency is the primary cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. Neonatal hypothyroidism (cretinism) is characterized by cognitive deficits, short stature, and sometimes deafness and muteness in children and adults born to mothers who were iodine-deficient during pregnancy.

Goiter

This photo shows a woman with a goiter, which is an extreme, irregular swelling on the anterior side of the neck.
(credit: “Almazi”/Wikimedia Commons)

In areas of the world with access to iodized salt, dietary deficiency is rare. Instead, inflammation of the thyroid gland is the more common cause of low blood levels of thyroid hormones. Called hypothyroidism    , the condition is characterized by a low metabolic rate, weight gain, cold extremities, constipation, reduced libido, menstrual irregularities, and reduced mental activity. In contrast, hyperthyroidism    —an abnormally elevated blood level of thyroid hormones—is often caused by a pituitary or thyroid tumor. In Graves’ disease, the hyperthyroid state results from an autoimmune reaction in which antibodies overstimulate the follicle cells of the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism can lead to an increased metabolic rate, excessive body heat and sweating, diarrhea, weight loss, tremors, and increased heart rate. The person’s eyes may bulge (called exophthalmos) as antibodies produce inflammation in the soft tissues of the orbits. The person may also develop a goiter.

Calcitonin

The thyroid gland also secretes a hormone called calcitonin    that is produced by the parafollicular cells (also called C cells) that stud the tissue between distinct follicles. Calcitonin is released in response to a rise in blood calcium levels. It appears to have a function in decreasing blood calcium concentrations by:

  • Inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts, bone cells that release calcium into the circulation by degrading bone matrix
  • Increasing osteoblastic activity
  • Decreasing calcium absorption in the intestines
  • Increasing calcium loss in the urine

However, these functions are usually not significant in maintaining calcium homeostasis, so the importance of calcitonin is not entirely understood. Pharmaceutical preparations of calcitonin are sometimes prescribed to reduce osteoclast activity in people with osteoporosis and to reduce the degradation of cartilage in people with osteoarthritis. The hormones secreted by thyroid are summarized in [link] .

Thyroid Hormones
Associated hormones Chemical class Effect
Thyroxine (T 4 ), triiodothyronine (T 3 ) Amine Stimulate basal metabolic rate
Calcitonin Peptide Reduces blood Ca 2+ levels

Of course, calcium is critical for many other biological processes. It is a second messenger in many signaling pathways, and is essential for muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and blood clotting. Given these roles, it is not surprising that blood calcium levels are tightly regulated by the endocrine system. The organs involved in the regulation are the parathyroid glands.

Chapter review

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck anterior to the trachea. Its hormones regulate basal metabolism, oxygen use, nutrient metabolism, the production of ATP, and calcium homeostasis. They also contribute to protein synthesis and the normal growth and development of body tissues, including maturation of the nervous system, and they increase the body’s sensitivity to catecholamines. The thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T 3 ) and thyroxine (T 4 ) are produced and secreted by the thyroid gland in response to thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the anterior pituitary. Synthesis of the amino acid–derived T 3 and T 4 hormones requires iodine. Insufficient amounts of iodine in the diet can lead to goiter, cretinism, and many other disorders.

Questions & Answers

circulatory system on blood pressure
Lakhu Reply
What is ELISA
POULAMI Reply
(enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) is a test that uses antibodies and color change to identify a substance.
luke
tr
Mohamed
what's defense mechanism?
Saintina
psychological strategies that are unconsciously used to protect a person from anxiety arising from unacceptable thoughts or feelings.
Henry
difference between apocrine sweat glands and merocrine sweat glands
Binkheir Reply
I believe the apocrine sweat gland uses a sac under the hair follicle and the merocrine sweat gland releases directly on to the surface of the skin
Mark
normal blood volume in our body
pankaj Reply
5Litres
Albert
Normal blood volume in adults is 6 litres
Kedha's
4.7 to 5ltr.. normal for adult
Clangbhelle
what are the advantages of the concave shape of red blood cells?
Amy Reply
This structure is VERY flexible. It can allow these cells to get into the most tiny places in our bodies. a VERY good design! The advantage of red blood cells' biconcave shape is that the surface area is increased to allow more haemoglobin to be stored in the cell.
Saafi
They can stack so that they can move to capillaries
Nejat
action of gluteus medius and minimus
Green Reply
Lateral rotation of the hip joint
Hertzo
Briefly explain location of ecg on a patient
Prince Reply
it is a machine that gives a graphical representation of heart beat
Nani
Briefly explain location of ecg leads on a patient?
Prince
in ecg we use electrical leads over the chest ,ancle and wrist
Nani
what is the anatomical and function difference between paravertebral and prevertebral ganglia ?
Rada Reply
types of tissue in human
Preety Reply
charactetistic Of cartilaginous tissue
Preety
what is theRecurrent infection?
pankaj Reply
what do you mean about recurrent infection
pankaj
Recurrent or persistent infection is a manifestation of primary immuno deficiency
Kedha's
weakens the immune system, allowing infections and other health problems to occur more easily
Kedha's
lysis of RBC
Abdirizack
What is barometric pressure
Kedha's Reply
what is the agglutination advantage
Gopal Reply
the functions of the liver
Nana Reply
it produces bile juice which is used to make the food smaller
Kedha's
it also plays an important role in conversion of amino acid into urea
Komal
it also has role in gluconeogenesis in which amino acids and lipids convert into glucose.
Komal
during fetal life it's a center for hemopoiesis (formation of blood cells)
Komal
it filters, or removes, harmful substances from the blood
Kedha's
It stores nutrients, such as vitamins and iron,for the body
Kedha's
what is the largest gland in human body
Shahid Reply
liver
rachna
correct
Said
correct
dominic
thyroid gland
Kedha's
thyroid is largest endocrine gland
Komal
describe microscopic structures of the kidney
Nana Reply
kidney is covered by fibrous capsule, consists of an outer cortex and inner medulla with medullary pyramids. The microscopic structure is seen as 1-2 millions of nephrons and collecting tubule.
Komal

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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