UMMS Affiliation

Department of Nuclear Medicine; Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism; Department of Physiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Iodide Peroxidase; Iodine; Iodine Radioisotopes; Kidney; Liver; Male; Rats; Selenium; Thyroid Gland; Thyroidectomy; Thyrotropin; Thyroxine; Triiodothyronine


Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Medical Physiology


In rats, the respective contribution of the thyroid and peripheral tissues to the pool of T3 remains unclear. Most, if not all, of the circulating T3 produced by extrathyroidal sources is generated by 5'-deiodination of T4, catalyzed by the selenoenzyme, type I iodothyronine 5'-deiodinase (5'D-I). 5'D-I in the liver and kidney is almost completely lost in selenium deficiency, resulting in a marked decrease in T4 deiodination and an increase in circulating T4 levels. Surprisingly, circulating T3 levels are only marginally decreased by selenium deficiency. In this study, we used selenium deficiency and thyroidectomy to determine the relative contribution of thyroidal and extrathyroidal sources to the total body pool of T3. Despite maintaining normal serum T4 concentrations in thyroidectomized rats by T4 replacement, serum T3 concentrations remained 55% lower than those seen in intact rats. In intact rats, restricting selenium intake had no effect on circulating T3 concentrations. Decreasing 5'D-I activity in the liver and kidney by > 90% by restricting selenium intake resulted in a further 20% decrease in serum T3 concentrations in the thyroidectomized, T4 replaced rats, suggesting that peripheral T4 to T3 conversion in these tissues generates approximately 20% of the circulating T3 concentrations. While dietary selenium restriction markedly decreased intrahepatic selenium content (> 95%), intrathyroidal selenium content decreased by only 27%. Further, thyroid 5'D-I activity actually increased 25% in the selenium deficient rats, suggesting the continued synthesis of this selenoenzyme over selenoproteins in other tissues in selenium deficiency. These data demonstrate that the thyroid is the major source of T3 in the rat and suggest that intrathyroidal T4 to T3 conversion may account for most of the T3 released by the thyroid.

DOI of Published Version



J Clin Invest. 1993 Jun;91(6):2709-13. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of clinical investigation

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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