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Chicken embryo illuminates role of thyroid hormone in brain development

Research suggests brain lesions in rare neurological disorder may originate before birth

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Section through the optic tectum of a chicken embryo, showing that MCT8-deficient cells (right panel) fail to migrate to their normal position. view more 

Credit: Pieter Vancamp

A thyroid hormone transporter is essential for the earliest stages of brain development, according to a JNeurosci study of a region of the developing chicken brain with a layered structure similar to the human cerebral cortex.

Monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8) deficiency in humans results in a rare neurological disorder called Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome. The deficiency prevents thyroid hormones from facilitating proper development of the cortex. Although a role for MTC8 has been demonstrated at the blood-brain barrier and in the formation of neural circuits, it has not been established at the role of progenitor cells before they differentiate into neuronal and glial cells.

Veerle Darras and colleagues studied the development of the optic tectum in chick embryos, a layered region that shares features with the mammalian cerebral cortex. By genetically modifying MCT8 expression, they found that MCT8-deficient cells failed to migrate to the outer layers of the optic tectum. In addition, the MCT8 deficiency disrupted the cell cycle and reduced the generation of new cells. Based on these findings, the authors suggest that brain lesions in Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome may originate before birth and treatments may therefore need to be started prenatally as well.

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Article: Deficiency of the thyroid hormone transporter MCT8 in neural progenitors impairs cellular processes crucial for early corticogenesis

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1917-17.2017

Corresponding author: Veerle Darras (KU Leuven, Belgium), veerle.darras@bio.kuleuven.be

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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