Deafness is a common result of severe hypothyroidism during development in humans and laboratory animals; however, little is known regarding the sensitivity of the auditory system to more moderate changes in thyroid hormone homeostasis. The current investigation compared the relative sensitivity of auditory function, motor function, and growth to the effects of moderate to severe perinatal hypothyroidism in the rat. Rats received propylthiouracil (PTU) in drinking water at concentrations of 0, 1, 5, and 25 ppm from Gestation Day 18 until postnatal day (PND) 21, and the effects on their offspring were evaluated. At 1 ppm, PTU did not affect any of the measured endpoints. Serum thyroxin concentrations were sharply reduced in the 5 and 25 ppm PTU groups at all ages sampled (PND 1, 7, 14, and 21). Marked reductions in serum triiodothyronine (T3) concentrations were also detected for all ages ≥7 at 25 ppm PTU, whereas no effects of 5 ppm PTU on serum T3 were apparent until PND 21. Compared to the controls, pups exposed to the highest dose of PTU demonstrated a delay in eye opening, reduced body weights, decreased and/or delayed preweaning motor activity, and persistent, postweaning hyperactivity. Only slight and transient effects on eye opening and ontogeny of motor activity were seen at the intermediate dose of PTU (5 ppm). Reflex modification audiometry revealed that, compared to controls, adult offspring from the 5 and 25 ppm treatment groups showed dose-dependent auditory threshold deficits (35 to >50 dB) at all frequencies tested (1, 4, 16, 32, and 40 kHz). Such dose-dependent effects indicate that the developing auditory system may be sensitive to mild hypothyroidism, suggesting the possible need for routine audiometric screening for infants and children at risk for iodine deficiency, myxedema, and/or exposure to thyrotoxic environmental agents.
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 1995
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