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Thyroperoxidase, Inhibition leads to TH synthesis, Decreased
Key Event Relationship Overview
AOPs Referencing Relationship
Life Stage Applicability
|All life stages||High|
Key Event Relationship Description
Thyroperoxidase (TPO) is a heme-containing apical membrane protein within the follicular lumen of thyrocytes that acts as the enzymatic catalyst for thyroid hormone (TH) synthesis (Taurog, 2005) across vertebrates. Two commonly used reference chemicals, propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole (MMI), are drugs that inhibit the ability of TPO to: a) activate iodine and transfer it to thyroglobulin (Tg) (Davidson et al., 1978); and, b) couple thyroglobulin (Tg)-bound iodotyrosyls to produce Tg-bound thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) (Taurog, 2005).
Evidence Supporting this KER
The weight of evidence supporting a direct linkage between the MIE, TPO inhibition, and the KE of decreased TH synthesis, is strong and supported by more than three decades of research in animals, including humans (Cooper et al., 1982; Cooper et al.,1983; Divi and Doerge, 1994).
The biological plausibility for this KER is rated Strong. TPO is the only enzyme capable of de novo systhesis of TH. TPO catalyzes several reactions, including the oxidation of iodide, nonspecific iodination of tyrosyl residues of thyroglobulin (Tg) to form monoiodotyrosyl (MIT) or diiodotyrosyl (DIT) residues, and the coupling of these Tg-bound iodotyrosyls to produce Tg-bound T3 and T4 (Divi and Doerge, 1994; Kessler et al., 2008; Ruf et al., 2006; Taurog et al., 1996, 2005). Therefore, inhibition of TPO activity is widely accepted to directly impact TH synthesis.
Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
While it is clear that TPO inhibition will lead to altered hormone synthesis, there is a need for data that will inform quantitative modeling of the relationship between TPO inhibition and the magnitude of effects on thyroid hormone synthesis.
Data from studies on genistein highlight this uncertainty. Doerge and colleagues have demonstrated that for this compound up to 80% TPO inhibition did not result in decreased serum T4 in rats (Doerge and Chang, 2002). This is not consistent with other prototypical TPO inhibitors (e.g., PTU, MMI). Genistein is however a well-known phytoestrogen and the observed inconsistency may be the result of feedback mechanisms resulting from its estrogenic effect.
There are only a limited number of studies where both TPO inhibition and iodine organification have been measured in vivo, and there are not enough data available to make any definitive quantitative correlations. One in vivo study in rats exposed to the TPO inhibitor genistein found no in vivo impact on serum thyroid hormone concentrations, even when TPO was inhibited up to 80% (Chang and Doerge, 2000). Genistein is however a well-known phytoestrogen and the observed inconsistency may be the result of feedback mechanisms resulting from its estrogenic effect.
Given that this is an MIE to KE relationship, there is only one response to evaluate in the relationship. Decreased TH synthesis, as measured by responses of iodinated species in the thyroid gland, is the result of TPO inhibition, which cannot be measured directly in vivo.
In vivo, evaluations of TPO inhibition are limited to evaluation of the iodinated species, or products of TPO activity, present in the thyroid gland at a particular time. However, as stated previously, any measurable response in these iodinated species is not a discreet assessment of TPO activity given that the gland maintains storage of hormone in the follicular lumen space and any alteration of TPO activity would be detected once the stores begin to be depleted. In Xenopus laevis, Haselman et al. (2020) showed a decrease in thyroidal iodinated species after only 2 days of exposure to potent TPO inhibitor MMI during thyroid-mediated metamorphosis and within 4 days for PTU and MBT, both model TPO inhibitors. In zebrafish, Walter et al. (2019) reported a similar time frame, namely a decrease in T4 levels at 72 hpf after starting the exposure to PTU at 0-2 hpf. It should be noted that the time-scale is probably depending on the developmental stage and whether the embryo is capable of thyroid hormone synthesis, rather than on the exposure duration.
Known modulating factors
Iodine availability will impact the ability of TPO to iodinate tyrosine residues on thyroglobulin. Iodine availability to TPO can be impacted a number of ways. First, environmental availability of iodine can vary greatly depending on whether and how much iodine exists in surface waters for aquatic organisms (gill respirators) and in the diets of both terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Second, somewhat regardless of iodine availability through environmental uptake (i.e., barring extremely high iodine exposure), iodine is actively transported into the thyroid follicular cell from the blood via sodium-iodide symporter (NIS), which has been shown to be susceptible to inhibition by, for example, perchlorate. As such, iodine availability to TPO is mediated by functional NIS. Finally, iodine is not fully available to TPO on the apical surface of the thyroid follicular cell until it is transported through the apical membrane by pendrin, an anion exchange protein - mutations or inhibition of pendrin could affect iodine availability to TPO.
Hydrogen peroxide is also needed by TPO to mediate the oxidation of iodide, which is produced locally by dual oxidase (DUOX). A mutation or inhibition of DUOX will impact local production of H2O2 leading to lower oxidizing potential of TPO and less organification of iodide.
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) released from the pituitary positively regulates the synthesis and release of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. As such, when TPO is inhibited and thyroid hormone synthesis is decreased, lower systemic levels of hormone cause feedback from the pituitary via TSH to upregulate a number of processes in the thyroid gland as a means of compensation, including (but not limited to) enhanced gene expression of NIS and thyrocyte cell proliferation (Tietge et al., 2010; Haselman et al., 2020).
Domain of Applicability
Taxonomic: This KER is plausibly applicable across vertebrates. Inhibition of TPO activity is widely accepted to directly impact TH synthesis. This is true for both rats and humans, as well as some fishes, frogs and birds. Most of the data supporting a causative relationship between TPO inhibition and altered TH synthesis is derived from animal studies, in vitro thyroid microsomes from rats or pigs, and a limited number of human ex vivo (Nagasaka and Hidaka, 1976; Vickers et al., 2012) and clinical studies. There are data to support that gene mutations in TPO result in congenital hypothyroidism, underscoring the essential role of TPO in human thyroid hormone synthesis.
Life stage: Applicability to certain life stages may depend on the species and their dependence on maternally transferred thyroid hormones during the earliest phases of development. The earliest life stages of teleost fish rely on maternally transferred THs to regulate certain developmental processes until embryonic TH synthesis is active (Power et al., 2001). As a result, TPO inhibition is not expected to decrease TH synthesis during these earliest stages of development. In zebrafish, Opitz et al. (2011) showed the formation of a first thyroid follicle at 55 hours post fertilization (hpf), Chang et al. (2012) showed a first significant TH increase at 120 hpf and Walter et al. (2019) showed clear TH production already at 72 hpf but did not analyse time points between 24 and 72 hpf. In fathead minnows, a significant increase of whole body thyroid hormone levels was already observed between 1 and 2 dpf, which corresponds to the appearance of the thyroid anlage at 35 hpf prior to the first observation of thyroid follicles at 58 hpf (Wabuke-Bunoti and Firling, 1983). It is still uncertain when exactly embryonic TH synthesis is activated and how this determines sensitivity to TH disruptors.
Sex: The KE is plausibly applicable to both sexes. Thyroid hormones are essential in both sexes and the components of the HPT-axis are identical in both sexes. There can however be sex-dependent differences in the sensitivity to the disruption of thyroid hormone levels and the magnitude of the response. In humans, females appear more susceptible to hypothyroidism compared to males when exposed to certain halogenated chemicals (Hernandez‐Mariano et al., 2017; Webster et al., 2014). In adult zebrafish, Liu et al. (2019) showed sex-dependent changes in thyroid hormone levels and mRNA expression of regulatory genes including corticotropin releasing hormone (crh), thyroid stimulating hormone (tsh) and deiodinase 2 after exposure to organophosphate flame retardants. The underlying mechanism of any sex-related differences remains unclear.
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