Deciphering the Effect of Thyroid Hormones
in Brain, Liver & Heart

As the central endocrine organ, the thyroid gland produces hormones that are of fundamental importance for the development and function of the human organism.

The special research programme ‘Local Control of Thyroid Hormone Action – LocoTACT’, led by the University Hospital Essen, is investigating the local control of the effects of thyroid hormones in a joint research network with the University of Lübeck and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in cooperation with the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, the University of Leipzig and ISAS. From 2020 to 2024, the project will focus on how these control mechanisms function, particularly in the brain, heart and liver. During this period, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) is going to fund the special research programme with a total of 13.7 million euros.

Thyroid hormones and ischemic heart diseases

Brain, heart and liver are starting points for many common diseases such as stroke, heart failure (cardiac insufficiency) or liver diseases (hepatopathy). The scientists at LocoTACT aim to find new therapeutic approaches by deciphering how the transport, metabolism and mechanism of action of thyroid hormones are controlled in the organs. The researchers also explore what effects a disruption would have on these processes. Thereby, they want to find out to what extent a changed local thyroid hormone status in the organs can have a positive effect on common diseases such as “fatty liver”. For this, they would like to develop strategies for a therapeutic modification of the tissue- and cell-specific thyroid hormone status and evaluate where thyroid hormones have beneficial effects in disease processes. “The goal is to use the local modulation of the thyroid hormone effect organ-specifically for the prevention and therapy of rare and common diseases. At ISAS, for instance, we’re investigating the influence of thyroid hormones in ischemic heart disease. To do so, we’dlike to further explore the underlying mechanisms and assess the signal transduction pathways”, explains Prof. Dr. Kristina Lorenz, head of the Translational Research department (formerly Biomedical Research) at ISAS.

Funded by the DFG – project number 424957847-TRR 296.