The ontogeny of thyroid peroxidase (TPO) activity was investigated in rat foetuses and neonates. From day 19 to 22 of gestation in intact pregnant rats, the TPO activity in their foetuses increased with foetal age.
Following maternal treatment with propylthiouracil (PTU), the TPO activity markedly increased in foetuses on and after day 20 of gestation. The TPO activity in encephalectomized foetuses increased as markedly as that in intact littermates, whereas that in hypophysectomized littermates failed to increase.
Newborn rats nursed by mothers treated with PTU had a TPO activity similar to that in controls of untreated mothers. There was also no difference in the TPO activity between hypophysectomized adult females and intact adult ones.
These observations show that in foetal rats, TPO activity increases disproportionately to the thyroid weight, but not in newborn and adult rats, and suggest that preferential synthesis of this enzyme occurs in addition to cell hypertrophy during foetal life.