Sympathetic nervous system activity in rat thyroid: Potential role in goitrogenesis

James B. Young*, M. Elizabeth Bürgi-Saville, Ulrich Bürgi, Lewis Landsberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The role of sympathetic innervation in regulation of thyroid function is incompletely understood. We, therefore, carried out studies in rats utilizing techniques of norepinephrine turnover to assess thyroid sympathetic activity in vivo. Thyroidal sympathetic activity was increased 95% by exposure to cold (4°C), 42% by chronic ingestion of an iodine-deficient diet, and 32% in rats fed a goitrogenic diet (low-iodine diet supplemented with propylthiouracil). In addition, fasting for 2 days reduced sympathetic nervous system activity in thyroid by 38%. Thyroid growth and 125I uptake were also compared in intact and decentralized hemithyroids obtained from animals subjected to unilateral superior cervical ganglion decentralization. Unilateral superior cervical ganglion decentralization led to a reduction in thyroid weight, in 125I uptake by thyroid tissue, and in TSH-induced stimulation of 125I uptake in decentralized hemithyroids. These results suggest that sympathetic activity in thyroid contributes to gland enlargement and may modulate tissue responsiveness to TSH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E861-E867
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5 51-5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Cold exposure
  • Diet
  • Fasting
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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