BRITE researchers are investigating the effects of thyroid hormone on Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects more than 18 million individuals worldwide. Among the risk factors that have been described for this disease is hypothyroidism, the second most common endocrine disorder in America. Thyroid hormone plays a key role in the development and maintenance of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons typically involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, in vitro studies have shown that thyroid hormone regulates the expression of the APP gene, the precursor of A?, and the splicing of Tau protein at exon 10. Our goal is to determine whether there is a direct relationship between hypothyroidism and the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease markers.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women after lung cancer. Extensive research is currently underway to identify agents that could induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells facilitating therapeutic intervention and potentially improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. A hormone that could be useful in the induction of apoptosis in breast cancer cells is thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism and low-normal free thyroxine are related to an increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women and with a reduction in the response to treatment. In this project, we are concentrating in determining the mechanisms involved in the control of breast cancer cell proliferation by thyroid hormone.