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Age effect on thyroid hormone brain response in male mice

  • Helena Kerp
  • Kathrin Engels
  • Frederike Kramer
  • Denica Doycheva
  • Georg Sebastian Hönes
  • Denise Zwanziger
  • Lars Christian Moeller
  • Heike Heuer
  • Dagmar FührerEmail author
Original Article



Thyroid hormones (TH) are important for brain development and central nervous system (CNS) function. Disturbances of thyroid function occur with higher prevalence in the ageing population and may negatively impact brain function.


We investigated the age impact on behavior in young adult and old male mice (5 vs. 20 months) with chronic hypo- or hyper-thyroidism as well as in sham-treated controls. Expression of TH transporters and TH responsive genes was studied in CNS and pituitary by in situ hybridization and qRT-PCR, whereas TH serum concentrations were determined by immunoassay.


Serum TH levels were lower in old compared with young hyperthyroid mice, suggesting a milder hyperthyroid phenotype in the aged group. Likewise, elevated plus maze activity was reduced in old hyperthyroid animals. Under hypothyroid conditions, thyroxine serum concentrations did not differ in young and old mice. Both groups showed a comparable decline in activity and elevated anxiety levels. However, an attenuated increase in hypothalamic thyrotropin releasing hormone and pituitary thyroid stimulating hormone transcript expression was found in old hypothyroid mice. Brain expression of monocarboxylate transporter 8 and organic anion transporting polypeptide 1c1 was not affected by age or TH status.


In summary, ageing attenuates neurological phenotypes in hyperthyroid but not hypothyroid mice, which fits with age effects on TH serum levels in the animals. In contrast no changes in TH transporter expression were found in aged mouse brains with hyper- or hypo-thyroid state.


Ageing Male mice Thyroid hormones Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism 



The authors are grateful to A. Jaeger, S. Rehn, M. Schmidt for their dedicated technical support.


This work was supported by DFG FU356/7–1/2 to DF, MO1018/2–1/2 to LCM, and HE3418/8–1 to HH in the framework of SPP1629 and RTG1715 to HH/FK. Funding source was not involved in decisions about study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All animal experiments were performed in accordance with the German regulations for Laboratory Animal Science (GVSOLAS) and the European Health Law of the Federation of Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA). The protocols for animal studies were approved by the Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz Nordrhein-Westfalen (LANUV-NRW), Germany (AZ.84–02.04.2013.A188).

Supplementary material

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Supplemental material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helena Kerp
    • 1
  • Kathrin Engels
    • 1
  • Frederike Kramer
    • 2
  • Denica Doycheva
    • 2
  • Georg Sebastian Hönes
    • 1
  • Denise Zwanziger
    • 1
  • Lars Christian Moeller
    • 1
  • Heike Heuer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dagmar Führer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and MetabolismUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute on Aging/Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI)JenaGermany

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