Thyroxine Exposure Effects on the Cranial Base

Emily Durham, R. Nicole Howie, Trish Parsons, Grace Bennfors, Laurel Black, Seth M. Weinberg, Mohammed Elsalanty, Jack C. Yu, James J. Cray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Thyroid hormone is important for skull bone growth, which primarily occurs at the cranial sutures and synchondroses. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and act in all stages of cartilage and bone development and maintenance by interacting with growth hormone and regulating insulin-like growth factor. Aberrant thyroid hormone levels and exposure during development are exogenous factors that may exacerbate susceptibility to craniofacial abnormalities potentially through changes in growth at the synchondroses of the cranial base. To elucidate the direct effect of in utero therapeutic thyroxine exposure on the synchondroses in developing mice, we provided scaled doses of the thyroid replacement drug, levothyroxine, in drinking water to pregnant C57BL6 wild-type dams. The skulls of resulting pups were subjected to micro-computed tomography analysis revealing less bone volume relative to tissue volume in the synchondroses of mouse pups exposed in utero to levothyroxine. Histological assessment of the cranial base area indicated more active synchondroses as measured by metabolic factors including Igf1. The cranial base of the pups exposed to high levels of levothyroxine also contained more collagen fiber matrix and an increase in markers of bone formation. Such changes due to exposure to exogenous thyroid hormone may drive overall morphological changes. Thus, excess thyroid hormone exposure to the fetus during pregnancy may lead to altered craniofacial growth and increased risk of anomalies in offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-311
Number of pages12
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cartilage
  • Collagen type
  • Cranial base
  • Craniofacial growth
  • Thyroid hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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