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Maturation of human hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid function and control

Maturation of human hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid function and control

Thyroid 10(3): 229-234

Measurements of serum thyrotropin (TSH) and free thyroxine (T4) concentrations were conducted in infants, children, and adults to assess maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) feedback control axis. Serum free T4 and TSH concentration data were collated for cord blood of the midgestation fetus, for premature and term infants, and for peripheral blood from newborn infants, children, and adults. Mean values were plotted on a nomogram developed to characterize the reference ranges of the normal axis quantitatively based on data from 522 healthy subjects, 2 weeks to 54 years of age; 83 untreated hypothyroid patients; and 116 untreated hyperthyroid patients. Samples for 75 patients with thyroid hormone resistance were also plotted. The characterized pattern of HPT maturation included a progressive decrease in the TSH/free T4 ratio with age, from 15 in the midterm fetus, to 4.7 in term infants, and 0.97 in adults. Maturation plotted on the nomogram was complex, suggesting increasing hypothalamic-pituitary T4 resistance during fetal development, probably secondary to increasing thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) secretion, the marked, cold-stimulated TRH-TSH surge at birth with reequilibration by 2-20 weeks, and a final maturation phase characterized by a decreasing serum TSH with minimal change in free T4 concentration during childhood and adolescence. The postnatal maturative phase during childhood and adolescence correlates with the progressive decrease in thyroxine secretion rate (on a microg/kg per day basis) and metabolic rate and probably reflects decreasing TRH secretion.

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Accession: 046631731

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PMID: 10779137

DOI: 10.1089/thy.2000.10.229

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