Role of the NADPH Oxidases DUOX and NOX4 in Thyroid Oxidative Stress

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Somatic mutations are present at high levels in the rat thyroid gland, indicating that the thyrocyte is under oxidative stress, a state in which cellular oxidant levels are high. The most important class of free radicals, or reactive metabolites, is reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as superoxide anion (O2-), hydroxyl radical (OH) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The main source of ROS in every cell type seems to be mitochondrial respiration; however, recent data support the idea that NADPH:O(2) oxidoreductase flavoproteins or simply NADPH oxidases (NOX) are enzymes specialized in controlled ROS generation at the subcellular level. Several decades ago, high concentrations of H2O2 were detected at the apical surface of thyrocytes, where thyroid hormone biosynthesis takes place. Only in the last decade has the enzymatic source of H2O2 involved in thyroid hormone biosynthesis been well characterized. The cloning of two thyroid genes encoding NADPH oxidases dual oxidases 1 and 2 (DUOX1 and DUOX2) revealed that DUOX2 mutations lead to hereditary hypothyroidism in humans. Recent reports have also described the presence of NOX4 in the thyroid gland and have suggested a pathophysiological role of this member of the NOX family. In the present review, we describe the participation of NADPH oxidases not only in thyroid physiology but also in gland pathophysiology, particularly the involvement of these enzymes in the regulation of thyroid oxidative stress.

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