Effects of thyroxine treatment on histology and behavior using the methimazole model of congenital hypothyroidism in the rat

E. O’Hare, Eun-Mee Kim, D. Page, R. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The timing of thyroxine (T4) replacement treatment in congenital hypothyroidism (CH) has been suggested to be important for optimizing cognitive recovery in humans; however this has not been fully established using modern animal models of CH. Consequently, the current studies investigated the ameliorating effects of postnatal T4 treatment on neuropathology and behavior in CH rats. Rat dams were administered methimazole to produce CH offspring, then brain tissue from male CH pups was analyzed to determine the effects of postnatal (P3, P7, P14 and P21) T4 treatment on hippocampal dendritic branching and the expression of nerve growth factor (NGF). Two operant behavioral procedures were employed to confirm and extend previous findings obtained using this model, and to investigate timelines for instigating T4 treatment on improved behavioral outcomes. T4 treatment initiated at P14 was protective of a reduction in dendritic branching in the hippocampus, and initiated at P7 was protective of a reduction of NGF expression in the fimbria of the hippocampus. Induction of CH did not affect the acquisition of simple operant response rules but had a significant effect on the acquisition of complex operant rules subsequently imposed. Furthermore, T4 treatment initiated at P3 protected learning deficits seen following the imposition of complex operant response rules. These findings indicate T4 treatment initiated at P7 is sufficient for the protection of hippocampal NGF expression and dendritic branching but for the protection of complex behavioral abilities T4 treatment is necessary prior to or approximating P3.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-138
Number of pages11
Early online date20 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 29 Jan 2015


  • congenital hypothyroidism
  • thyroxine
  • operant behavior
  • dendritic branching
  • nerve growth factor
  • Rat model


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