Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 481–489 | Cite as

Expression of thyroid-stimulating hormone receptors and thyroglobulin in limbic regions in the adult human brain

  • Meleshni Naicker
  • Strinivasen Naidoo
Original Article


Expression of the human thyroid-specific proteins, thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSH-R) and thyroglobulin (TG) in non-thyroid tissue is well-documented. TSH-R has been identified in the heart, kidney, bone, pituitary, adipose tissue, skin and astrocyte cultures. TG has been identified in the skin, thymus and kidney. However, none of those previous studies had identified TSH-R or TG in specific human brain regions. Previously, a pilot study conducted by our group on normal adult human brain demonstrated TSH-R and TG in cortical neurons and cerebral vasculature, respectively, within various brain areas. In the present study, we extend this investigation of thyroid proteins specifically in limbic regions of normal human brain. Forensic human samples of amygdalae, cingulate gyrii, frontal cortices, hippocampii, hypothalamii, and thalamii were obtained from five individuals who had died of causes unrelated to head injury and had no evidence of brain disease or psychological abnormality. Tissues were probed with commercial polyclonal antibodies against human TSH-R and TG which resulted in the significant demonstration of neuronal TSH-R in all limbic regions examined. Other novel results demonstrated TG in vascular smooth muscle of all limbic regions and in some neurons. Finding thyroid proteins in limbic areas of the human brain is unique, and this study demonstrates that cerebro-limbic localisation of thyroid proteins may have potential roles in neuro-psycho-pharmacology.


Thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor Thyroglobulin Thyroid gland Limbic regions Auto-immune thyroid disease Immuno-histochemistry 



thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor




auto-immune thyroid disorders


hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis


blood-brain barrier


central nervous system




region of interest


room temperature



The authors thank Cathy Connelly from the Biostatistics Unit within the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal for providing statistical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by the College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Medical Research Council of South Africa.

Conflict of interest

The authors are unaware of any conflict of interest arising from the current project, and any, and all output therefrom, including but, not limited to journal articles, conference proceedings and scientific reports.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Therapeutics and Medicines Management, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nelson, R Mandela School of MedicineUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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