++

The thyroid gland produces two related hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) (Fig. 341-1). Acting through thyroid hormone receptors α and β, these hormones play a critical role in cell differentiation during development and help maintain thermogenic and metabolic homeostasis in the adult. Autoimmune disorders of the thyroid gland can stimulate overproduction of thyroid hormones (thyrotoxicosis) or cause glandular destruction and hormone deficiency (hypothyroidism). In addition, benign nodules and various forms of thyroid cancer are relatively common and amenable to detection by physical examination.

++
Figure 341-1
Graphic Jump Location

Structures of thyroid hormones. Thyroxine (T4) contains four iodine atoms. Deiodination leads to production of the potent hormone triiodothyronine (T3), or the inactive hormone reverse T3.

++

The thyroid (Greek thyreos, shield, plus eidos, form) consists of two lobes connected by an isthmus. It is located anterior to the trachea between the cricoid cartilage and the suprasternal notch. The normal thyroid is 12–20 g in size, highly vascular, and soft in consistency. Four parathyroid glands, which produce parathyroid hormone (Chap. 353), are located posterior to each pole of the thyroid. The recurrent laryngeal nerves traverse the lateral borders of the thyroid gland and must be identified during thyroid surgery to avoid injury and vocal cord paralysis.

++

The thyroid gland develops from the floor of the primitive pharynx during the third week of gestation. The developing gland migrates along the thyroglossal duct to reach its final location in the neck. This feature accounts for the rare ectopic location of thyroid tissue at the base of the tongue (lingual thyroid) as well as the occurrence of thyroglossal duct cysts along this developmental tract. Thyroid hormone synthesis normally begins at about 11 weeks' gestation.

++

Neural crest derivatives from the ultimobranchial body give rise to thyroid medullary C cells that produce calcitonin, a calcium-lowering hormone. The C cells are interspersed throughout the thyroid gland, although their density is greatest in the juncture of the upper one-third and lower two-thirds of the gland. Calcitonin plays a minimal role in calcium homeostasis in humans but the C-cells are important because of their involvement in medullary thyroid cancer.

++

Thyroid gland development is orchestrated by the coordinated expression of several developmental transcription factors. Thyroid transcription factor (TTF)-1, TTF-2, and paired homeobox-8 (PAX-8) are expressed selectively, but not exclusively, in the thyroid gland. In combination, they dictate thyroid cell development and the induction of thyroid-specific genes such as thyroglobulin (Tg), thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the sodium iodide symporter (Na+/I, NIS), and the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSH-R). Mutations in these developmental transcription factors or their downstream target genes are rare causes of thyroid agenesis or dyshormonogenesis, though the causes of most forms of congenital hypothyroidism remain unknown ...

Want access to your institution's subscription?

Sign in to your MyAccess Account while you are actively authenticated on this website via your institution (you will be able to tell by looking in the top right corner of any page – if you see your institution’s name, you are authenticated). You will then be able to access your institute’s content/subscription for 90 days from any location, after which you must repeat this process for continued access.

Ok

About MyAccess

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess account, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessMedicine Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessMedicine content and resources including more than 250 examination and procedural videos, patient safety modules, an extensive drug database, Q&A, Case Files, and more.

$995 USD
Buy Now

Pay Per View: Timed Access to all of AccessMedicine

24 Hour Subscription $34.95

Buy Now

48 Hour Subscription $54.95

Buy Now

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.