It is well established that thyroid hormones are required for cardiovascular functions; however, the molecular mechanisms remain incompletely understood, especially the individual contributions of genomic and non-genomic signalling pathways. In this study, we dissected how thyroid hormones modulate aortic contractility. To test the immediate effects of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility, we used a wire myograph to record the contractile response of dissected mouse aortas to the adrenergic agonist phenylephrine in the presence of different doses of T3 (3,3′,5-triiodothyronine). Interestingly, we observed reduced vasoconstriction under low and high T3 concentrations, indicating an inversed U-shaped curve with maximal constrictive capacity at euthyroid conditions. We then tested for possible genomic actions of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility by treating mice for 4 days with 1 mg/L thyroxine in drinking water. The study revealed that in contrast to the non-genomic actions the aortas of these animals were hyperresponsive to the contractile stimulus, an effect not observed in endogenously hyperthyroid TRβ knockout mice. To identify targets of genomic thyroid hormone action, we analysed aortic gene expression by microarray, revealing several altered genes including the well-known thyroid hormone target gene hairless. Taken together, the findings demonstrate that thyroid hormones regulate aortic tone through genomic and non-genomic actions, although genomic actions seem to prevail in vivo. Moreover, we identified several novel thyroid hormone target genes that could provide a better understanding of the molecular changes occurring in the hyperthyroid aorta.
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