The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis in fish and its role in fish development and reproduction

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Bony fishes represent the largest vertebrate class and are a very diverse animal group. This chapter provides a thorough review of the available scientific literature on the thyroid system in these important vertebrate animals. The molecular components of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis in this group correspond closely to those of mammals. The thyroid tissue in the fishes is organized as diffuse follicles, with a few exceptions, rather than as an encapsulated gland as is found in most other vertebrate species. The features of this diffuse tissue in fishes are reviewed with an emphasis on feedback relationships within the HPT axis, the molecular biology of the thyroid system in fishes, and comparisons versus the thyroid systems of other vertebrate taxa. A review of the role of thyroid hormone in fish development and reproduction is included. Available information about the HPT axis in fishes is quite detailed for some species and rather limited or absent in others. This review focuses on species that have been intensively studied for their value as laboratory models in assays to investigate disruption in normal function of the thyroid system. In addition, in vitro and in vivo assay methods for screening chemicals for their potential to interfere with the thyroid system are reviewed. It is concluded that there are currently no in vitro or in vivo assays in fish species that are sufficiently developed to warrant recommendation for use to efficiently screen chemicals for thyroid disruption. Methods are available that can be used to measure thyroid hormones, although our ability to interpret the causes and implications of potential alterations in T4 or T3 levels in fishes is nonetheless limited without further research. Copyright © Informa Healthcare.

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Critical Reviews in Toxicology