Transcriptome Analysis of the Developing Rat Thyroid Gland from Fetal Life to Prepuberty

Louise Ramhøj*, Anna Rosenmai, Aurélie Lardenois

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review


The structure and function of the thyroid gland is established early in life, laying the foundation for lifelong thyroid function. A range of early- and adultlife thyroid disorders may arise from perturbed thyroid development rather than simple perturbed thyroid function later in life. Yet, the development and maturation of the thyroid gland remains poorly understood, not least at the molecular level. Using bulk-RNA-barcoding and sequencing (BRB-seq) technology, we show that the developing rat thyroid gland undergoes marked transcriptional changes during establishment of thyroid gland function. We found that 1003 genes are differentially regulated throughout development and that they cluster in 8 patterns with a distinct transcriptional profile over the course of development (gestation day 21, postnatal days 3, 6, 16 and 22). Highly expressed genes in fetuses and neonates were primarily related to development, morphogenesis, cell proliferation and cell division. The immaturity of the gland, even after onset of fetal thyroid function, was supported by near absence of follicular lumen in fetal thyroid glands at gestational day 21. In contrast to the earlier time points, gland structure was more mature at 2 weeks of age, where there is a peak in serum thyroid hormone concentrations. Here, gene expression of genes important in thyroid hormone synthesis also peaked: thyroperoxidase, thyroglobulin and Duox1. We also identified 12 genes with sexually dimorphic expression patterns. Some of these are related to epithelial cell-cell contact and thyroid hormone synthesis and thus may indicate a sexspecific susceptibility of the developing thyroid gland to external stressors such as environmental chemicals. Our results show that even after the onset of fetal thyroid function, and during the first weeks of life in the rat, the thyroid gland is still a developing and maturing gland undergoing a distinct transcriptional
reprogramming. Disruptions to this transcriptional programming could alter development and thus susceptibility to disease in adult life.
Original languageEnglish
Article number155
JournalEuropean Thyroid Journal
Issue numberSupplement 1
Pages (from-to)11-11
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event43rd Annual Meeting of the European Thyroid Association - Virtual congress
Duration: 4 Sep 20217 Sep 2021


Conference43rd Annual Meeting of the European Thyroid Association
LocationVirtual congress


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