Journal of Endocrinology vol:196 issue:3 pages:519-528
In this study, we tried to elucidate the changes in thyroid hormone (TH) receptor beta2 (TRbeta2) expression at the different levels of the hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroidal (HPT) axis during the last week of chicken embryonic development and hatching, a period characterized by an augmented activity of the HPT axis. We quantified TRbeta2 mRNA in retina, pineal gland, and the major control levels of the HPT axis - brain, pituitary, and thyroid gland - at day 18 of incubation, and found the most abundant mRNA content in retina and pituitary. Thyroidal TRbeta2 mRNA content increased dramatically between embryonic day 14 and 1 day post-hatch. In pituitary and hypothalamus, TRbeta2 mRNA expression rose gradually, in parallel with increases in plasma thyroxine concentrations. Using in situ hybridization, we have demonstrated the presence of TRbeta2 mRNA throughout the diencephalon and confirmed the elevation in TRbeta2 mRNA expression in the hypophyseal thyrotropes. In vitro incubation with THs caused a down-regulation of TRbeta2 mRNA levels in embryonic but not in post-hatch pituitaries. The observed expression patterns in pituitary and diencephalon may point to substantial changes in TRbeta2-mediated TH feedback active during the perinatal period. The strong rise in thyroidal TRbeta2 mRNA content could be indicative of an augmented modulation of thyroid development and/or function by THs toward and after hatching. Finally, THs proved to exert an age-dependent effect on pituitary TRbeta2 mRNA expression.