Excess Maternal Thyroxine Alters the Proliferative Activity and Angiogenic Profile of Growth Cartilage of Rats at Birth and Weaning

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The aim of this study was to unravel the mechanisms by which thyroxine affects skeletal growth by evaluating proliferative activity and angiogenic profile of growth cartilage of neonatal and weanling rats.


Sixteen adult Wistar rats were equally divided into 2 groups: control and treated with thyroxine during pregnancy and lactation. The weight, measurement of plasma free T4 and thyroids, femurs’ histomorphometric analysis, and proliferative activity and angiogenic profile by immunohistochemical or real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in growth cartilage was performed. Data were analyzed using Student’s t test.


The free T4 was significantly higher in the treated rats. However, the height of the follicular epithelium of the thyroid in newborns was significantly lower in the treated group. The excess maternal thyroxine significantly reduced the body weight and length of the femur in the offspring but significantly increased the thickness of trabecular bone and changed the height of the zones of the growth plate. Furthermore, excess maternal thyroxine reduced cell proliferation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in the growth cartilage of newborn and 20-day-old rats (P < 0.05). There was also a reduction in the immunohistochemical expression of Tie2 in the cartilaginous epiphysis of the newborns and FLK-1 in the articular cartilage of 20-day-old rats. No significant difference was observed in Ang2 expression.


The excess maternal thyroxine during pregnancy and lactation reduced endochondral bone growth in the progeny and reduced the proliferation rate and VEGF, Flk-1, and Tie2 expression in the cartilage of growing rats without altering the mRNA expression of Ang1 and Ang2.

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