Skip to main content

The expanding functions of thyroid hormone

Thyroid hormone (TH) exerts a pleiotropic action on most, if not all, cell types, ranging from the regulation of development, metabolism, and neuronal signaling [1,2,3]. More than 50 years ago Jamshed Tata first reported that the response to TH involved transcriptional changes in the cell [4]. It is clear now that this transcriptional effect, also termed genomic action, is primarily mediated by the nuclear thyroid hormone receptor (TR) [5]. Accumulative studies indicate that TR regulates target gene expression through a diverse group of accessory proteins collectively termed corepressors and coactivators.

Besides the genomic actions through TR, TH can also act through non-genomic pathways [6]. The non-genomic actions have been shown to involve binding of TH to membrane receptors, to membrane bound protein kinases, or to extranuclear TRs. For example, the rapid TH effect on cardiac cells appears to involve TR-mediated activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase in the cytosol and binding of TH to the membrane receptor, integrin αVβ3, which in turn activates a MAPK signaling cascade [6].

Within the general themes of genomic and non-genomic actions of TH, the recent progresses in three new areas for TH actions are reviewed in this thematic series. First, Ying et al. sum up how TH regulates microRNA expression and how microRNAs can fine tune TH function in cardiac and skeletal muscle [7]. Second, Yen et al. focus on the function and molecular mechanisms by which TH regulates autophagy and mitochondrial turnover and the implications for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) [8]. Third, Hsia et al. provides new insights on TH-mediated regulation of herpes virus infections through non-genomic action [9]. It is our sincere hope that this thematic series brings our readers some of the new breakthroughs and developments in the field of TH action.


  1. Mullur R, Liu YY, Brent GA. Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiol Rev. 2014;94:355–82.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Ng L, Kelley MW, Forrest D. Making sense with thyroid hormone—the role of T(3) in auditory development. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013;9:296–307.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Ortiga-Carvalho TM, Sidhaye AR, Wondisford FE. Thyroid hormone receptors and resistance to thyroid hormone disorders. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014;10:582–91.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Tata JR. The road to nuclear receptors of thyroid hormone. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013;1830:3860–6.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Brent GA. Mechanisms of thyroid hormone action. J Clin Invest. 2012;122:3035–43.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. Davis PJ, Goglia F, Leonard JL. Nongenomic actions of thyroid hormone. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2016;12:111–21.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Zhang D, Li Y, Liu S, Wang YC, Guo F, Zhai Q, Jiang J, Ying H. microRNA and thyroid hormone signaling in cardiac and skeletal muscle. Cell Biosci. 2017;7:14.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. Sinha RA, Yen PM. Thyroid hormone-mediated autophagy and mitochondrial turnover in NAFLD. Cell Biosci. 2016;6:46.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Figliozzi RW, Chen F, Hsia SV. New insights on thyroid hormone mediated regulation of herpesvirus infections. Cell Biosci. 2017;7:13.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors’ contributions

JH and SVH discussed and wrote the editorial together. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jiemin Wong or Shaochung Victor Hsia.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wong, J., Hsia, S.V. The expanding functions of thyroid hormone. Cell Biosci 7, 53 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: