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Event: 1003

Key Event Title

The KE title should describe a discrete biological change that can be measured. It should generally define the biological object or process being measured and whether it is increased, decreased, or otherwise definably altered relative to a control state. For example “enzyme activity, decreased”, “hormone concentration, increased”, or “growth rate, decreased”, where the specific enzyme or hormone being measured is defined. More help

Decreased, Triiodothyronine (T3) in serum

Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. The short name should be less than 80 characters in length. More help
Decreased, Triiodothyronine (T3) in serum

Biological Context

Structured terms, selected from a drop-down menu, are used to identify the level of biological organization for each KE. Note, KEs should be defined within a particular level of biological organization. Only KERs should be used to transition from one level of organization to another. Selection of the level of biological organization defines which structured terms will be available to select when defining the Event Components (below). More help

Organ term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Organ term

Key Event Components

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.Because one of the aims of the AOP-KB is to facilitate de facto construction of AOP networks through the use of shared KE and KER elements, authors are also asked to define their KEs using a set of structured ontology terms (Event Components). In the absence of structured terms, the same KE can readily be defined using a number of synonymous titles (read by a computer as character strings). In order to make these synonymous KEs more machine-readable, KEs should also be defined by one or more “event components” consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 22 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; See List). Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling). The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signalling by that receptor).Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description. To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons. If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests. Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add. More help
Process Object Action
abnormal circulating hormone level 3,3',5'-triiodothyronine decreased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE. Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
DIO2i posterior swim bladder KeyEvent Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry (send email) Open for adoption EAGMST Under Review
DIO2i anterior swim bladder KeyEvent Arthur Author (send email) Open for adoption EAGMST Under Review
DIO1i posterior swim bladder KeyEvent Agnes Aggy (send email) Open for adoption EAGMST Under Review
DIO1i anterior swim bladder KeyEvent Allie Always (send email) Open for adoption EAGMST Under Review
DIO1 inhib alters metamorphosis KeyEvent Agnes Aggy (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
TPOi anterior swim bladder KeyEvent Evgeniia Kazymova (send email) Open for adoption EAGMST Under Review
TPOi eye structure KeyEvent Allie Always (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite


This is a structured field used to identify specific agents (generally chemicals) that can trigger the KE. Stressors identified in this field will be linked to the KE in a machine-readable manner, such that, for example, a stressor search would identify this as an event the stressor can trigger. NOTE: intermediate or downstream KEs in one AOP may function as MIEs in other AOPs, meaning that stressor information may be added to the KE description, even if it is a downstream KE in the pathway currently under development.Information concerning the stressors that may trigger an MIE can be defined using a combination of structured and unstructured (free-text) fields. For example, structured fields may be used to indicate specific chemicals for which there is evidence of an interaction relevant to this MIE. By linking the KE description to a structured chemical name, it will be increasingly possible to link the MIE to other sources of chemical data and information, enhancing searchability and inter-operability among different data-sources and knowledgebases. The free-text section “Evidence for perturbation of this MIE by stressor” can be used both to identify the supporting evidence for specific stressors triggering the MIE as well as to define broad chemical categories or other properties that classify the stressors able to trigger the MIE for which specific structured terms may not exist. More help

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) can be selected from an ontology. In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
zebrafish Danio rerio High NCBI
fathead minnow Pimephales promelas High NCBI
African clawed frog Xenopus laevis High NCBI

Life Stages

The structured ontology terms for life-stage are more comprehensive than those for taxa, but may still require further description/development and explanation in the free text section. More help
Life stage Evidence
All life stages High

Sex Applicability

The authors must select from one of the following: Male, female, mixed, asexual, third gender, hermaphrodite, or unspecific. More help
Term Evidence
Unspecific High

Key Event Description

A description of the biological state being observed or measured, the biological compartment in which it is measured, and its general role in the biology should be provided. For example, the biological state being measured could be the activity of an enzyme, the expression of a gene or abundance of an mRNA transcript, the concentration of a hormone or protein, neuronal activity, heart rate, etc. The biological compartment may be a particular cell type, tissue, organ, fluid (e.g., plasma, cerebrospinal fluid), etc. The role in the biology could describe the reaction that an enzyme catalyses and the role of that reaction within a given metabolic pathway; the protein that a gene or mRNA transcript codes for and the function of that protein; the function of a hormone in a given target tissue, physiological function of an organ, etc. Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs, KERs or AOPs. Only describe this KE as a single isolated measurable event/state. This will ensure that the KE is modular and can be used by other AOPs, thereby facilitating construction of AOP networks. More help

There are two biologically active thyroid hormones (THs), triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), and a few less active iodothyronines (rT3, 3,5-T2), which are all derived from the modification of tyrosine molecules (Hulbert, 2000). However, the plasma concentrations of the other iodothyronines are significantly lower than those of T3 and T4. The different iodothyronines are formed by the sequential outer or inner ring monodeiodination of T4 by the deiodinating enzymes, Dio1, Dio2, and Dio3 (Gereben et al., 2008). Deiodinase structure is considered to be unique, as THs are the only molecules in the body that incorporate iodide.

The circulatory system serves as the major transport and delivery system for THs from synthesis in the gland to delivery to tissues. The majority of THs in the blood are bound to transport proteins (Bartalena and Robbins, 1993). In humans, the major transport proteins are TBG (thyroxine binding globulin), TTR (transthyretin) and albumin. The percent bound to these proteins in adult humans is about 75, 15 and 10 percent, respectively (Schussler 2000). Unbound (free) hormones are approximately 0.03 and 0.3 percent for T4 and T3, respectively. In serum, it is the free form of the hormone that is active.

There are major species differences in the predominant binding proteins and their affinities for THs (see section below on Taxonomic applicability). However, there is broad agreement that changes in serum concentrations of THs is diagnostic of thyroid disease or chemical-induced disruption of thyroid homeostasis (Zoeller et al., 2007).

It is notable that the changes measured in the TH concentration reflect mainly the changes in the serum transport proteins rather than changes in the thyroid status. These thyroid-binding proteins serve as hormonal store which ensure their even and constant distribution in the different tissues, while they protect the most sensitive ones in the case of severe changes in thyroid availability, like in thyroidectomies (Obregon et al., 1981). Until recently, it was believed that all of the effects of TH were mediated by the binding of T3 to the thyroid nuclear receptors (TRa and TRb), a notion which is now questionable due to the increasing evidence that support the non-genomic action of TH (Davis et al., 2010, Moeller et al., 2006). Many non-nuclear TH binding sites have been identified to date and they usually lead to rapid cellular response in TH-effects (Bassett et al., 2003), but the specific pathways that are activated in this regard need to be elucidated.

The production of THs in the thyroid gland and the circulation levels in the bloodstream are self-controlled by an efficiently regulated feedback mechanism across the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Thyroid (HPT) axis. One of the most unique characteristics of TH is their ability to regulate their own concentration, not only in the plasma level, but also in the individual cell level, to maintain their homeostasis. This is succeed by the efficient regulatory mechanism of the thyroid hormone axis which consists of the following: (1) the hypothalamic secretion of the thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), (2) the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion from the anterior pituitary, (3) hormonal transport by the plasma binding proteins, (4) cellular uptake mechanisms in the cell level, (5) intracellular control of TH concentration by the deiodinating mechanism (6) transcriptional function of the nuclear thyroid hormone receptor and (7) in the fetus, the transplacental passage of T4 and T3 (Cheng et al., 2010).

In regards to the brain, the TH concentration involves also an additional level of regulation, namely the hormonal transport through the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) (Williams, 2008). The TRH and the TSH are actually regulating the production of pro-hormone T4 and in a lesser extent of T3, which is the biologically active TH. The rest of the required amount of T3 is produced by outer ring deiodination of T4 by the deiodinating enzymes D1 and D2 (Bianco et al., 2006), a process which takes place mainly in liver and kidneys but also in other target organs such as in the brain, the anterior pituitary, brown adipose tissue, thyroid and skeletal muscle (Gereben et al., 2008; Larsen, 2009). Both hormones exert their action in almost all tissues of mammals and they are acting intracellularly, and thus the uptake of T3 and T4 by the target cells is a crucial step of the overall pathway. The trans-membrane transport of TH is performed mainly through transporters that differ depending on the cell type (Hennemann et al., 2001; Friesema et al., 2005; Visser et al., 2008). Many transporter proteins have been identified up to date but the monocarboxylate transporters (Mct8, Mct10) and the anion-transporting polypeptide (OATP1c1) show the highest degree of affinity towards TH (Jansen et al., 2005).

T3 and T4 have significant effects on normal development, neural differentiation, growth rate and metabolism (Yen, 2001; Brent, 2012; Williams, 2008), with the most prominent ones to occur during the fetal development and early childhood. The clinical features of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism emphasize the pleiotropic effects of these hormones on many different pathways and target organs. The thyroidal actions though are not only restricted to mammals, as their high significance has been identified also for other vertebrates, with the most well-studied to be the amphibian metamorphosis (Furlow and Neff, 2006). The importance of the thyroid-regulated pathways becomes more apparent in iodine deficient areas of the world, where a higher rate of cretinism and growth retardation has been observed and linked to decreased TH levels (Gilbert et al., 2012). Another very common cause of severe hypothyroidism in human is the congenital hypothyroidism, but the manifestation of these effects is only detectable in the lack of adequate treatment and is mainly related to neurological impairment and growth retardation (Glinoer, 2001), emphasizing the role of TH in neurodevelopment in all above cases. In adults, the thyroid-related effects are mainly linked to metabolic activities, such as deficiencies in oxygen consumption, and in the metabolism of the vitamin, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, but these defects are subtle and reversible (Oetting and Yen, 2007). Blood tests to detect the amount of thyroid hormone (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are routinely done for newborn babies for the diagnosis of congenital hypothyroidism at the earliest stage possible.

How It Is Measured or Detected

One of the primary considerations in evaluating AOPs is the relevance and reliability of the methods with which the KEs can be measured. The aim of this section of the KE description is not to provide detailed protocols, but rather to capture, in a sentence or two, per method, the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements. Methods that can be used to detect or measure the biological state represented in the KE should be briefly described and/or cited. These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA).Key considerations regarding scientific confidence in the measurement approach include whether the assay is fit for purpose, whether it provides a direct or indirect measure of the biological state in question, whether it is repeatable and reproducible, and the extent to which it is accepted in the scientific and/or regulatory community. Information can be obtained from the OECD Test Guidelines website and the EURL ECVAM Database Service on Alternative Methods to Animal Experimentation (DB-ALM). ?

T3 and T4 can be measured as free (unbound) or total (bound + unbound). Free hormone are considered more direct indicators of T4 and T3 activities in the body. The majority of T3 and T4 measurements are made using either RIA or ELISA kits. In animal studies, total T3 and T4 are typically measured as the concentrations of free hormone are very low and difficult to detect. Historically, the most widely used method in toxicology is RIA. The method is routinely used in rodent endocrine and toxicity studies. The ELISA method has become more routine in rodent studies. The ELISA method is a commonly used as a human clinical test method.

Recently, analytical determination of iodothyronines (T3, T4, rT3, T2) and their conjugates through methods employing HLPC and mass spectrometry have become more common (DeVito et al., 1999; Miller et al., 2009; Hornung et al., 2015; Nelson et al., 2016; Stinckens et al., 2016).

Any of these measurements should be evaluated for fit-for-purpose, relationship to the actual endpoint of interest, repeatability, and reproducibility. All three of the methods summarized above would be fit-for-purpose, depending on the number of samples to be evaluated and the associated costs of each method. Both RIA and ELISA measure THs by a an indirect methodology, whereas analytical determination is the most direct measurement available. All of these methods, particularly RIA, are repeatable and reproducible.

Domain of Applicability

This free text section should be used to elaborate on the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided). While structured terms may be selected to define the taxonomic, life stage and sex applicability (see structured applicability terms, above) of the KE, the structured terms may not adequately reflect or capture the overall biological applicability domain (particularly with regard to taxa). Likewise, the structured terms do not provide an explanation or rationale for the selection. The free-text section on evidence for taxonomic, life stage, and sex applicability can be used to elaborate on why the specific structured terms were selected, and provide supporting references and background information.  More help

Taxonomic: The overall evidence supporting taxonomic applicability is strong. With few exceptions vertebrate species have circulating T3 and T4 that are bound to transport proteins in blood. Clear species differences exist in transport proteins (Yamauchi and Isihara, 2009). Specifically, the majority of supporting data for TH decreases in serum come from rat studies, and the predominant iodothyronine binding protein in rat serum is transthyretin (TT4). TT4 demonstrates a reduced binding affinity for T4 when compared with thyroxine binding globulin (TBG), the predominant serum binding protein for T4 in humans. This difference in serum binding protein affinity for THs is thought to modulate serum half-life for T4; the half-life of T4 in rats is 12-24 hr, wherease the half-life in humans is 5-9 days (Capen, 1997). While these species differences impact hormone half-life, possibly regulatory feedback mechanisms, and quantitative dose-response relationships, measurement of serum THs is still regarded as a measurable key event causatively linked to downstream adverse outcomes.

THs are evolutionarily conserved molecules present in all vertebrate species (Hulbert, 2000; Yen, 2001). Moreover, their crucial role in amphibian and larbean metamorphoses is well established (Manzon and Youson, 1997; Yaoita and Brown, 1990). Their existence and importance has been also described in many differrent animal and plant kingdoms (Eales, 1997; Heyland and Moroz, 2005), while their role as environmental messenger via exogenous routes in echinoderms confirms the hypothesis that these molecules are widely distributed among the living organisms (Heyland and Hodin, 2004). However, the role of TH in the different species may differ depending on the expression or function of specific proteins (e.g receptors or enzymes) that are related to TH function, and therefore extrapolation between species should be done with cautious.

Life stage: Thyroid hormones are essential in all life stages, but elevations of circulating levels are associated with specific developmental events.

Sex: Thyroid hormones are essential in both sexes.


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. Ideally, the list of references, should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide ( (OECD, 2015). More help
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  • Hulbert A J. (2000). Thyroid hormones and their effects: A new perspective. Biol Rev. 75: 519-631.
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  • Larsen PR. (2009).Type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase in human skeletal muscle: new insights into its physiological role and regulation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 94:1893-1895.
  • Manzon RG, Youson JH. (1997). The effects of exogenous thyroxine (T4) or triiodothyronine (T3), in the presence and absence of potassium perchlorate, on the incidence of metamorphosis and on serum T4 and T3 concentrations in larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus L.). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 106:211-220.
  • Miller MD, Crofton KM, Rice DC, Zoeller RT. (2009).Thyroid-disrupting chemicals: interpreting upstream biomarkers of adverse outcomes. Environ Health Perspect. 117:1033-1041.
  • Moeller LC, Dumitrescu AM, Seo H, Refetoff S. (2006). Thyroid hormone mediated changes in gene expression can be initiated by cytosolic action of the thyroid hormone receptor β through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway. NRS. 4:1-4.Nelson, K., Schroeder, A., Ankley, G., Blackwell, B., Blanksma, C., Degitz, S., Flynn, K., Jensen, K., Johnson, R., Kahl, M., Knapen, D., Kosian, P., Milsk, R., Randolph, E., Saari, T., Stinckens, E., Vergauwen, L., Villeneuve, D., 2016. Impaired anterior swim bladder inflation following exposure to the thyroid peroxidase inhibitor 2-mercaptobenzothiazole part I: Fathead minnow. Aquatic Toxicology 173, 192-203.Obregon MJ, Mallol J, Escobar del Rey F, Morreale de Escobar G. (1981). Presence of l-thyroxine and 3,5,3-triiodo-l-thyronine in tissues from thyroidectomised rats. Endocrinology 109:908-913.
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  • Stinckens, E., Vergauwen, L., Schroeder, A., Maho, W., Blackwell, B., Witters, H., Blust, R., Ankley, G., Covaci, A., Villeneuve, D., Knapen, D., 2016. Impaired anterior swim bladder inflation following exposure to the thyroid peroxidase inhibitor 2-mercaptobenzothiazole part II: Zebrafish. Aquatic Toxicology 173, 204-217.
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  • Yamauchi K1, Ishihara A. Evolutionary changes to transthyretin: developmentally regulated and tissue-specific gene expression.FEBS J. 2009 Oct;276(19):5357-66.
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  • Zoeller RT, Tan SW, Tyl RW. General background on the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2007 Jan-Feb;37(1-2):11-53