Thyroid Hormone Metabolism: A Historical Perspective

Document Type


Publication Date



Center for Molecular Medicine, MaineHealth Institute for Research

Journal Title

Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association

MeSH Headings

Humans; Triiodothyronine (metabolism); Thyroxine (metabolism); Thyroid Hormones (metabolism); Thyroid Gland (metabolism); Iodine (metabolism)


In this article, starting with the recognition that iodine is essential for normal thyroid function and is a component of thyroid hormone (TH) molecules, we discuss the many seminal observations and discoveries that have led to identification of various pathways of TH metabolism and their potential roles in TH economy and action. We then recount evidence that TH metabolism participates in maintaining the appropriate content of active hormone in a TH-responsive tissue or cell. Thus, metabolism of the TH is not merely a means by which it is degraded and eliminated from the body, but an essential component of an intricate system by which the thyroid exerts its multiple regulatory effects on almost all organs and tissues. The article ends with a summary of the current concepts and some outstanding questions that are awaiting answers.

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