Modulating Thyroid Hormone Levels in Adult Mice: Impact on Behavior and Compensatory Brain Changes

Dana M. Niedowicz, Wangxia Wang, Doug A. Price, Peter T. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Thyroid hormone (TH) perturbation is a common medical problem. Because of substantial public health impact, prior researchers have studied hyper- and hypothyroidism in animal models. Although most prior research focused on in utero and/or developmental effects, changes in circulating TH levels are commonly seen in elderly individuals: approximately 20% of persons older than 80 years have clinically impactful hypothyroidism and up to 5% have clinical hyperthyroidism, with women being more often affected than men. TH disease model methodology in mice have varied but usually focus on a single sex, and the impact(s) of TH perturbation on the adult brain are not well understood. We administered thyroxine to middle-aged (13 to 14 months) male and female mice to model hyperthyroidism and TH-lowering drugs propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole, to induce hypothyroidism. These pharmacological agents are used commonly in adult humans. Circulating TH-level changes were observed when thyroxine was dosed at 20 μg/mL in drinking water for two weeks. By contrast, PTU and methimazole did not elicit a consistent reproducible effect until two months of treatment. No substantial changes in TH levels were detected in brain tissues of treated animals; however, pronounced changes in gene expression, specifically for TH-processing transcripts, were observed following the treatment with thyroxine. Our study indicated a robust compensatory mechanism by which the brain tissue/cells minimize the TH fluctuation in CNS by altering gene expression. Neurobehavioral changes were related to the TH perturbation and suggested potential associations between cognitive status and hyper- and hypothyroidism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9960188
JournalJournal of Thyroid Research
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Dana M. Niedowicz et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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