Stem Cells and the Thyroid. It is possible to use patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for treating hypothyroidism. Stem cell therapy has demonstrated the ability to restore thyroid function, even after complete destruction.
Stem cells aid in permanently restoring the function of thyroid follicular cells. Further studies and subsequent findings will exponentially improve these results.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of hormones. Symptoms, including hair loss, excessive sweating, and effects on breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and mood, are easily identifiable.
Stem Cells and the Thyroid.
The thyroid gland causes hyperthyroidism by overproducing the thyroxine hormone. It accelerates the body’s metabolism, leading to unintentional weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeats. Additional symptoms such as nervousness, anxiety, increased sweating, irritability, and trembling hands.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce a sufficient amount of certain hormones. This results in fatigue or drowsiness, weight gain, sensitivity to colds, depression, menstrual irregularities, hair loss, brittle nails, and dry skin.
As mentioned above, stem cells assist in permanently restoring the function of thyroid follicular cells.
Regeneration of thyroid tissue using embryonic stem cells from mice. A group of researchers from the Free University of Brussels and the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago. They have successfully converted embryonic stem cells from mice into thyroid cells. These cells were able to form tissues that, once transplanted into rodents, effectively regulated the animals’ hormone levels. The results, published in Nature, offer potential applications of regenerative medicine for treating hypothyroidism.
The most significant aspect of the study is that “follicular cells derived from embryonic stem cells generated thyroid tissue capable of restoring hormonal deficits in animals.”
Stem Cells and the Thyroid.
This opens up a path for the application of stem cell-based technologies in treating hypothyroidism, the most common congenital endocrine disorder in humans, affecting one in every 2,000 newborns. Regenerative medicine has paid relatively little attention to this field of study until now.
The thyroid gland’s main function is to metabolize iodine and synthesize hormones that regulate the growth, development, and metabolism of nearly all tissues.
In mammals, the thyroid gland consists of two types of endocrine cells: thyroid follicular cells, which secrete two hormones, thyroxine, and triiodothyronine, and C cells, which secrete calcitonin.
The experiment and its results.
Sabine Costagliola and her colleagues developed a protocol to generate thyroid follicular cells from embryonic stem cells by overexpressing only two transcription factors, proteins involved in gene expression.
In the next step, the newly formed follicular cells were treated with thyrotropin hormone, a drug used to treat thyroid cancer. Thyrotropin stimulated the cells to form three-dimensional tissues, creating in vitro follicles.
Finally, when the follicles were transplanted into mice with hypothyroidism. The animals’ hormone levels were restored, indicating that the thyroid tissues derived from stem cells successfully fulfilled their function.
I invite you to learn more about this fascinating world of stem cells by reading our article, “What Are Stem Cells?“.