Expression of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis related genes in the human skin

Andrzej Slominski, Jacobo Wortsman, Leonard Kohn, Kenneth B. Ain, Gopalakrishnan M. Venkataraman, Alexander Pisarchik, Jae Hoon Chung, Cesidio Giuliani, Mark Thornton, George Slugocki, Desmond J. Tobinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


The skin is commonly affected in thyroid diseases, but the mechanism for this association is still unclear. As the skin expresses numerous neuroendocrine elements, we tested the additional cutaneous expression of mediators operating in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. We found significant expression of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor mRNA in cultured keratinocytes, epidermal melanocytes, and melanoma cells. The presence of thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor was confirmed by northern analyses and the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor was found to be functionally active in cyclic adenosine monophosphate signal assays. Thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor expressing cells also expressed the sodium iodide symporter and thyroglobulin genes. We also found expression of deiodinases 2 and 3 (mainly deiodinase 2) in whole skin biopsy specimens, and in the majority of epidermal and dermal cells by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction followed by sequencing of the amplified gene segments. There was selective expression of the gene for thyroid-stimulating hormone β; detection of the thyroid-releasing hormone gene was minimal and thyroid-releasing hormone receptor mRNA was not detected in most of the samples. Expression of functional thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor in the skin may have significant physiologic and pathologic consequences, particularly in autoimmune conditions associated with production of stimulating antibodies against the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor. We conclude that the expanding list of neuroendocrine elements expressed in the skin supports a strong role for this system in cutaneous biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1455
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by intramural funding of the Department of Pathology, UTHSC and the NIHgrant AR047079-01A2 to AS: “Neuroendocrinology of the Skin” and by a Technology Action Fund Grant from the State of Ohio to LK


  • Deiodinases
  • Skin
  • Sodium symporter
  • Thyroid-releasing hormone
  • Thyroid-releasing hormone receptor
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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