Thyroid hormones regulate selenoprotein expression and selenium status in mice

Jens Mittag, Thomas Behrends, Carolin S Hoefig, Björn Vennström, Lutz Schomburg


Impaired expression of selenium-containing proteins leads to perturbed thyroid hormone (TH) levels, indicating the central importance of selenium for TH homeostasis. Moreover, critically ill patients with declining serum selenium develop a syndrome of low circulating TH and a central downregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. This prompted us to test the reciprocal effect, i.e., if TH status would also regulate selenoprotein expression and selenium levels. To investigate the TH dependency of selenium metabolism, we analyzed mice expressing a mutant TH receptor α1 (TRα1+m) that confers a receptor-mediated hypothyroidism. Serum selenium was reduced in these animals, which was a direct consequence of the mutant TRα1 and not related to their metabolic alterations. Accordingly, hyperthyroidism, genetically caused by the inactivation of TRβ or by oral TH treatment of adult mice, increased serum selenium levels in TRα1+m and controls, thus demonstrating a novel and specific role for TRα1 in selenium metabolism. Furthermore, TH affected the mRNA levels for several enzymes involved in selenoprotein biosynthesis as well as serum selenoprotein P concentrations and the expression of other antioxidative selenoproteins. Taken together, our results show that TH positively affects the serum selenium status and regulates the expression of several selenoproteins. This demonstrates that selenium and TH metabolism are interconnected through a feed-forward regulation, which can in part explain the rapid parallel downregulation of both systems in critical illness.

ZeitschriftPLoS ONE
Seiten (von - bis)e12931
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 22.09.2010


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