Researchers generate thyroid tissue using mice stem cells

October 11, 2012 by Bob Yirka weblog

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers in Brussels, with assistance from U.S. colleagues, have succeeded in generating thyroid tissue using mice embryonic stem cells. A procedure involving grafting new tissue onto a disabled thyroid resulted in restored function for nine out of ten study mice, the team reports in their paper published in the journal Nature.

The thyroid is an endocrine gland found in the neck. It functions to control how quickly the body uses energy, and to produce certain proteins. It also has a role in regulating the responsiveness of other hormones. It does its job by producing —if the thyroid is damaged or grows abnormally, a condition known as hypothyroidism results. This condition causes reduced production of the hormones that allow for normal body growth and mental development.

To cure the condition, researchers have turned to , a process where stem cells are manipulated into growing new organ cells. The process of thyroid regeneration is complicated by the requirement that cells grow in a physically-optimal shape. Such a shape has spherical follicles that trap iodide and hold it until a concentration threshold is reached.

To address this challenge, the researchers took stem cells from mice embryos and genetically altered them to express the two proteins NKX2-1 and PAX8, which are normally only expressed together in the thyroid. To cause the follicles to develop, they exposed the cells to the hormone thyrotropin in a , which resulted in the cells developing into with follicles similar to those found in a healthy thyroid.

Because of the promising results found in the first stage of their work, the researchers grafted newly grown tissue into mice that had been caused to have hypothyroidism, and found that nine out of ten experienced full recoveries.

More work will have to be done in this area to determine any undesirable side effects before human test trials can be conducted. However, at this stage, the researchers report that the procedure looks very promising, offering hope to those who have lost function due to infections, drug use, or radiation treatments.

Explore further: Researchers grow pituitary glands from embryonic stem cells

More information: Generation of functional thyroid from embryonic stem cells, Nature (2012) doi:10.1038/nature11525

Abstract
Author information Supplementary information
The primary function of the thyroid gland is to metabolize iodide by synthesizing thyroid hormones, which are critical regulators of growth, development and metabolism in almost all tissues. So far, research on thyroid morphogenesis has been missing an efficient stem-cell model system that allows for the in vitro recapitulation of the molecular and morphogenic events regulating thyroid follicular-cell differentiation and subsequent assembly into functional thyroid follicles. Here we report that a transient overexpression of the transcription factors NKX2-1 and PAX8 is sufficient to direct mouse embryonic stem-cell differentiation into thyroid follicular cells that organize into three-dimensional follicular structures when treated with thyrotropin. These in vitro-derived follicles showed appreciable iodide organification activity. Importantly, when grafted in vivo into athyroid mice, these follicles rescued thyroid hormone plasma levels and promoted subsequent symptomatic recovery. Thus, mouse embryonic stem cells can be induced to differentiate into thyroid follicular cells in vitro and generate functional thyroid tissue.

Related Stories

Researchers grow pituitary glands from embryonic stem cells

November 10, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in Nature reports that scientists have been able to grow working pituitary glands from embryonic stem cells from mice. When these were transplanted into mice with defects in the pituitary ...

Mild thyroid dysfunction in early pregnancy linked to serious complications

June 23, 2012
Even moderate thyroid dysfunction during early pregnancy significantly increases the risk of serious complications, underscoring the need for universal screening in the first trimester, a new study finds. The results will ...

Elderly may be more likely to die if they have subclinical hyperthyroidism

June 6, 2011
A common hormone abnormality in older adults -- a mild form of overactive thyroid called subclinical hyperthyroidism -- is linked to a much higher risk of dying, a new study finds. The results will be presented Sunday at ...

Recommended for you

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Strain of intestinal bacteria can stop high-salt diet from inducing inflammatory response linked to hypertension

November 15, 2017
Microbes living in your gut may help protect against the effects of a high-salt diet, according to a new study from MIT.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.