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AC Gerard, JF Denef, IM Colin and MF van den Hove

OBJECTIVE: Thyroglobulin (Tg) is stored within the follicular lumen mainly in a soluble form, but globules made of insoluble multimers are also present and considered to be a mechanism to store prohormone at high concentration. We investigated the immunohistochemical properties of these intrafollicular globules and their possible processing by thyroid cells upon stimulation in the human and in the mouse. DESIGN: Human thyroids (normal, Graves' disease and hot adenomas) and thyroids from old ICR mice without or with goitrogenic treatment were processed for light microscopy. METHODS: Immunohistochemistry for Tg with a polyclonal antibody and two monoclonal antibodies, one specific for thyroxine-rich-iodinated Tg and the other recognizing Tg independently of its iodine level, staining with periodic-acid-schiff, and binding of lectins specific for mannose and sialic acid were performed on all tIssue sections. Intrafollicular globules were quantified, with distinction between 'active' or 'hot' and 'hypofunctioning' or 'cold' follicles. RESULTS: In normal human and old mouse thyroids, the intrafollicular globules were strongly stained with PAS, but negative for the three anti-Tg antibodies and the two lectin-binding assays, while the surrounding soluble Tg was positive. In normal human tIssue, globules were more frequent in 'hypofunctioning' than in 'active' follicles. They were exceptional in Graves' disease and hot adenomas. In old mice, Tg globules were more frequent in 'cold' than in 'hot' follicles. Along with the goitrogen treatment, they became fewer, fragmented and more often present in follicles with a 'hot' aspect. CONCLUSIONS: Upon TSH stimulation, thyrocytes become able to process colloid globules suggesting that this stock of Tg can be used in vivo for thyroid hormone synthesis.

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AC Gerard, V Xhenseval, IM Colin, MC Many and JF Denef

Vasoactive and angiogenic factors are involved in the autocrine/paracrine thyroid regulation of microvascular bed during goiter development. In the thyroid of old mice, the presence of slowly functioning ('cold') follicles allowed us to study the microvascular regulation of each follicle in correlation with the immunohistochemical expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and nitric oxide synthase III (NOSIII). Mice aged 20 months did or did not receive a goitrogenic treatment (low iodine diet and propylthiouracyl), and their thyroids were processed for light and electron microscopy, and for autoradiography. The relative volumes (Vv) of the capillaries, the number of vessels per follicular area, the mean capillary area and the number of [(3)H]thymidine labeled nuclei were measured separately for 'hot' and 'cold' follicles. Already in control mice, the capillary bed surrounding 'hot' follicles was significantly larger than that seen around 'cold' follicles, because of larger diameters and twice the number of capillaries. This difference persisted whatever the length of the stimulatory treatment. During this treatment, the Vv of the capillaries increased to a larger extent around 'hot' follicles than around 'cold' ones. All vascular changes around 'cold' follicles were less extended and the increase in the capillary diameter was delayed. In control mice, the 'cold' follicles were negative for NOSIII and positive for VEGF while 'hot' follicles were positive for both. During stimulation, all follicles became progressively NOSIII positive. These data support the concept of 'angio-follicular units' in the thyroid and demonstrate their differential regulation in chronic stimulation during which local secretion of VEGF and NO is clearly involved.

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M.-C. Many, J.-F. Denef and S. Haumont

Abstract. Thyroid hyperplasia was induced in C3H mice by a low iodine diet feeding supplemented with propylthiouracil. The morphological modifications associated to the development of hyperplasia were analyzed at light microscopical level and the cellular proliferation was studied by autoradiography after a pulse labelling with [3H]thymidine.

The initial modification during the course of hyperplasia is the development of the vascularization. It includes the dilatation of the capillaries, which occurs before any extended modification of the follicular cells and any change of the thyroid weight, and the proliferation of endothelial cells which starts earlier than that of follicular cells.