the thyroglobulin molecule to produce the hormone precursors diiodotyrosine and monoiodotyrosine. Thyroperoxidase further catalyzes the intramolecular coupling of two molecules of diiodotyrosine to produce tetraiodothyronine (T4). A similar coupling of one monoiodotyrosine and one diiodotyrosine molecule produces triiodothyronine (T3). Mature iodinated thyroglobulin is stored extra-cellularly in the lumen of thyroid follicles, each consisting of a central space rimmed by the apical membranes of thyrocytes. Typically, thyroglobulin contains from 0.1 to 1.0 percent of its weight as iodine. About one-third of its iodine is in the form of thyroid hormone, the rest as the precursors. An average adult thyroid in an iodine-sufficient geographic region contains about 15 mg iodine (Fisher and Oddie, 1969b).
Thyroglobulin, which contains the thyroid hormones, is stored in the follicular lumen until needed. Then endosomal and lysosomal proteases digest thyroglobulin and release the hormones into the circulation. About two-thirds of thyroglobulin’s iodine is in the form of the inactive precursors, monoiodotyrosine and diiodotyrosine. This iodine is not released into the circulation, but instead is removed from the tyrosine moiety by a specific deiodinase and then recycled within the thyroid gland. This process is an important mechanism for iodine conservation, and individuals with impaired or genetically absent deiodinase activity risk iodine deficiency.
Once in the circulation, T4 and T3 rapidly attach to several binding proteins synthesized in the liver, including thyroxine-binding globulin, transthyretin, and albumin. The bound hormone then migrates to target tissues where T4 is deiodinated to T3, the metabolically active form. The responsible deiodinase contains selenium, and selenium deficiency may impair T4 conversion and hormone action. The iodine of T4 returns to the serum iodine pool and follows again the cycle of iodine or is excreted in the urine.
Thyrotropin (TSH) is the major regulator of thyroid function. The pituitary secretes this protein hormone (molecular weight about 28,000) in response to circulating concentrations of thyroid hormone, with TSH secretion increasing when circulating thyroid hormone decreases. TSH affects several sites within the thyrocyte, the principal actions being to increase thyroidal uptake of iodine and to break down thyroglobulin in order to release thyroid hormone into the circulation. An elevated serum TSH concentration indicates primary hypothyroidism, and a decreased TSH concentration shows hyperthyroidism.
The urine contains the fraction of the serum iodine pool that is not concentrated by the thyroid gland. Typically, urine contains