The fetal heart undergoes its own growth and maturation stages all while supplying blood and nutrients to the growing fetus and its organs. Immature contractile cardiomyocytes proliferate to rapidly increase and establish cardiomyocyte endowment in the perinatal period. Maturational changes in cellular maturation, size and biochemical capabilities occur, and require, a changing hormonal environment as the fetus prepares itself for the transition to extrauterine life. Thyroid hormone has long been known to be important for neuronal development, but also for fetal size and survival. Fetal circulating 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3) levels surge near term in mammals and are responsible for maturation of several organ systems, including the heart. Growth factors like insulin-like growth factor-1 stimulate proliferation of fetal cardiomyocytes, while thyroid hormone has been shown to inhibit proliferation and drive maturation of the cells. Several cell signaling pathways appear to be involved in this complicated and coordinated process. The aim of this review was to discuss the foundational studies of thyroid hormone physiology and the mechanisms responsible for its actions as we speculate on potential fetal programming effects for cardiovascular health.
- Cardiomyocyte maturation
- Fetal programming
- Thyroid hormone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism