Decreased anxiety- and depression-like behaviors and hyperactivity in a type 3 deiodinase-deficient mouse showing brain thyrotoxicosis and peripheral hypothyroidism.

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Molecular Medicine, MMCRI

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MeSH Headings

Animals, Anxiety, Behavior, Animal, Brain, Depression, Disease Models, Animal, Female, Hypothyroidism, Iodide Peroxidase, Male, Mice, Mice, 129 Strain, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Psychomotor Agitation, Thyrotoxicosis


Hypo- and hyperthyroid states, as well as functional abnormalities in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis have been associated with psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression. However, the nature of this relationship is poorly understood since it is difficult to ascertain the thyroid status of the brain in humans. Data from animal models indicate that the brain exhibits efficient homeostatic mechanisms that maintain local levels of the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3) within a narrow range. To better understand the consequences of peripheral and central thyroid status for mood-related behaviors, we used a mouse model of type 3 deiodinase (DIO3) deficiency (Dio3 -/- mouse). This enzyme inactivates thyroid hormone and is highly expressed in the adult central nervous system. Adult Dio3 -/- mice exhibit elevated levels of T3-dependent gene expression in the brain, despite peripheral hypothyroidism as indicated by low circulating levels of thyroxine and T3. Dio3 -/- mice of both sexes exhibit hyperactivity and significantly decreased anxiety-like behavior, as measured by longer time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze and in the light area of the light/dark box. During the tail suspension, they stayed immobile for a significantly shorter time than their wild-type littermates, suggesting decreased depression-like behavior. These results indicate that increased thyroid hormone in the brain, not necessarily in peripheral tissues, correlates with hyperactivity and with decreases in anxiety and depression-like behaviors. Our results also underscore the importance of DIO3 as a determinant of behavior by locally regulating the brain levels of thyroid hormone.



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