New type of nerve cells, in the brain, developed with the help of thyroid hormones

Neurons affected by thyroid hormones (Credit: Mittag et al.)Researchers have found new type of nerve cells in the brain that are helpful in maintaining the cardiovascular functions such as heart rhythm and blood pressure.

This research has been published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

In this study, researchers worked on the mouse model and found a group of neurons that were previously completely unknown. These nerve cells develop with the help of thyroid hormone showing that the disturbance in thyroid gland could finally lead to the problems affecting the function of the heart and related vessels.

This study, for the first time, showed that the thyroid hormones could also affect the heart indirectly as it was already known that too high or too low production of thyroid hormones develop heart problems.

“This discovery opens the possibility of a completely new way of combating cardiovascular disease”, Jens Mittag, group leader at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet, said in a statement. “If we learn how to control these neurons, we will be able to treat certain cardiovascular problems like hypertension through the brain. This is, however, still far in the future. A more immediate conclusion is that it is of utmost importance to identify and treat pregnant women with hypothyroidism, since their low level of thyroid hormone may harm the production of these neurons in the foetus, and this may in the long run cause cardiovascular disorders in the offspring.”


Mittag, J., Lyons, D., Sällström, J., Vujovic, M., Dudazy-Gralla, S., Warner, A., Wallis, K., Alkemade, A., Nordström, K., Monyer, H., Broberger, C., Arner, A., & Vennström, B. (2012). Thyroid hormone is required for hypothalamic neurons regulating cardiovascular functions Journal of Clinical Investigation DOI: 10.1172/JCI65252

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