To the extent possible under law, AOP-Wiki has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to KER:305

Relationship: 305


The title of the KER should clearly define the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream and which is downstream). Consequently all KER titles take the form “upstream KE leads to downstream KE”.  More help

TH synthesis, Decreased leads to T4 in serum, Decreased

Upstream event
Upstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help
Downstream event
Downstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

This table is automatically generated upon addition of a KER to an AOP. All of the AOPs that are linked to this KER will automatically be listed in this subsection. Clicking on the name of the AOP in the table will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Inhibition of Thyroperoxidase and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent High Moderate Kevin Crofton (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
XX Inhibition of Sodium Iodide Symporter and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent High Moderate Kevin Crofton (send email) Not under active development
Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) Inhibition and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent High High Mary Gilbert (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
Inhibition of Na+/I- symporter (NIS) leads to learning and memory impairment adjacent High Moderate Anna Price (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
Thyroperoxidase inhibition leading to increased mortality via reduced anterior swim bladder inflation adjacent Moderate Low Dries Knapen (send email) Open for adoption Under Development
Thyroperoxidase inhibition leading to altered amphibian metamorphosis adjacent High Moderate Jonathan Haselman (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) Inhibition leading to altered amphibian metamorphosis adjacent High High Jonathan Haselman (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
Thyroperoxidase inhibition leading to increased mortality via altered eye structure adjacent Lucia Vergauwen (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite

Taxonomic Applicability

Select one or more structured terms that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER. In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER. Authors can indicate the relevant taxa for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 30-31 and 37-38 of User Handbook) More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
human Homo sapiens High NCBI
rat Rattus norvegicus High NCBI
mouse Mus musculus High NCBI
Xenopus laevis Xenopus laevis High NCBI
zebrafish Danio rerio Low NCBI
fathead minnow Pimephales promelas Low NCBI

Sex Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant sex for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of the User Handbook). More help
Sex Evidence
Male High
Female High

Life Stage Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant life stage for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of User Handbook). More help
Term Evidence
All life stages High

Key Event Relationship Description

Provide a brief, descriptive summation of the KER. While the title itself is fairly descriptive, this section can provide details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves (see page 39 of the User Handbook). This description section can be viewed as providing the increased specificity in the nature of upstream perturbation (KEupstream) that leads to a particular downstream perturbation (KEdownstream), while allowing the KE descriptions to remain generalised so they can be linked to different AOPs. The description is also intended to provide a concise overview for readers who may want a brief summation, without needing to read through the detailed support for the relationship (covered below). Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs that are not part of this KER, other KERs or other AOPs. This will ensure that the KER is modular and can be used by other AOPs. More help

Thyroid hormones (THs), thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are synthesized by NIS and TPO in the thyroid gland as iodinated thyroglobulin (Tg) and stored in the colloid of thyroid follicles. Secretion from the follicle into serum is a multi-step process. The first involves thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulation of the separation of the peptide linkage between Tg and TH. The next steps involve endocytosis of colloid, fusion of the endosome with the basolateral membrane of the thyrocyte, and finally release of TH into blood. More detailed descriptions of this process can be found in reviews by Braverman and Utiger (2012) and Zoeller et al. (2007).

Evidence Supporting this KER

Assembly and description of the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP is an important step in the AOP development process that sets the stage for overall assessment of the AOP (see pages 49-56 of the User Handbook). To do this, biological plausibility, empirical support, and the current quantitative understanding of the KER are evaluated with regard to the predictive relationships/associations between defined pairs of KEs as a basis for considering WoE (page 55 of User Handbook). In addition, uncertainties and inconsistencies are considered. More help

The weight of evidence linking these two KEs of decreased TH synthesis and decreased T4 in serum is strong. It is commonly accepted dogma that decreased synthesis in the thyroid gland will result in decreased circulating TH (serum T4).

Biological Plausibility
Define, in free text, the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream. What are the structural or functional relationships between the KEs? For example, there is a functional relationship between an enzyme’s activity and the product of a reaction it catalyses. Supporting references should be included. However, it is recognised that there may be cases where the biological relationship between two KEs is very well established, to the extent that it is widely accepted and consistently supported by so much literature that it is unnecessary and impractical to cite the relevant primary literature. Citation of review articles or other secondary sources, like text books, may be reasonable in such cases. The primary intent is to provide scientifically credible support for the structural and/or functional relationship between the pair of KEs if one is known. The description of biological plausibility can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured (see page 40 of the User Handbook for further information).   More help

The biological relationship between two KEs in this KER is well understood and documented fact within the scientific community.

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
In addition to outlining the evidence supporting a particular linkage, it is also important to identify inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship. Additionally, while there are expected patterns of concordance that support a causal linkage between the KEs in the pair, it is also helpful to identify experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. Identification of uncertainties and inconsistencies contribute to evaluation of the overall WoE supporting the AOPs that contain a given KER and to the identification of research gaps that warrant investigation (seep pages 41-42 of the User Handbook).Given that AOPs are intended to support regulatory applications, AOP developers should focus on those inconsistencies or gaps that would have a direct bearing or impact on the confidence in the KER and its use as a basis for inference or extrapolation in a regulatory setting. Uncertainties that may be of academic interest but would have little impact on regulatory application don’t need to be described. In general, this section details evidence that may raise questions regarding the overall validity and predictive utility of the KER (including consideration of both biological plausibility and empirical support). It also contributes along with several other elements to the overall evaluation of the WoE for the KER (see Section 4 of the User Handbook).  More help

There are no inconsistencies in this KER, but there are some uncertainties. The first uncertainty stems from the paucity of data for quantitative modeling of the relationship between the degree of synthesis decrease and resulting changes in circulating T4 concentrations. In addition, most of the data supporting this KER comes from inhibition of TPO, and there are a number of other processes (e.g., endocytosis, lysosomal fusion, basolateral fusion and release) that are not as well studied.

Response-response Relationship
This subsection should be used to define sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs. In particular, information regarding the general form of the relationship (e.g., linear, exponential, sigmoidal, threshold, etc.) should be captured if possible. If there are specific mathematical functions or computational models relevant to the KER in question that have been defined, those should also be cited and/or described where possible, along with information concerning the approximate range of certainty with which the state of the KEdownstream can be predicted based on the measured state of the KEupstream (i.e., can it be predicted within a factor of two, or within three orders of magnitude?). For example, a regression equation may reasonably describe the response-response relationship between the two KERs, but that relationship may have only been validated/tested in a single species under steady state exposure conditions. Those types of details would be useful to capture.  More help

Fisher et al. (2013) published a quantitative biologically-based dose-response model for iodine deficiency in the rat. This model provides quantitative relationships for thyroidal T4 synthesis (iodine organification) and predictions of serum T4 concentrations in developing rats. There are other computational models that include thyroid hormone synthesis. Ekerot et al. (2012) modeled TPO, T3, T4 and TSH in dogs and humans based on exposure to myeloperoxidase inhibitors that also inhibit TPO.  This model was recently adapted for rat (Leonard et al., 2016) and Hassan et al (2017) have extended it to include the pregnant rat dam in response to TPO inhibition induced by PTU. While the original model predicted serum TH and TSH levels as a function of oral dose, it was not used to explicitly predict the relationship between serum hormones and TPO inhibition, or thyroidal hormone synthesis. Leonard et al. (2016) recently incorporated TPO inhibition into the model. Degon et al (2008) developed a human thyroid model that includes TPO, but does not make quantitative prediction of organification changes due to inhibition of the TPO enzyme. Further empirical support for the response-response relationship has been demonstrated in the amphibian model, Xenopus laevis, exposed to TPO inhibitors during pro-metamorphosis (Haselman et al., 2020) wherein temporal profiles were measured for both thyroidal and circulating T4.

This sub-section should be used to provide information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). This can be useful information both in terms of modelling the KER, as well as for analyzing the critical or dominant paths through an AOP network (e.g., identification of an AO that could kill an organism in a matter of hours will generally be of higher priority than other potential AOs that take weeks or months to develop). Identification of time-scale can also aid the assessment of temporal concordance. For example, for a KER that operates on a time-scale of days, measurement of both KEs after just hours of exposure in a short-term experiment could lead to incorrect conclusions regarding dose-response or temporal concordance if the time-scale of the upstream to downstream transition was not considered. More help

Given that the thyroid gland contains follicular lumen space filled with stored thyroglobulin/T4, complete inhibition of thyroid hormone synthesis at a given point in time will not result in an instantaneous decrease in circulating T4. The system will be capable of maintaining sufficient circulating T4 levels until the gland stores are depleted. The time it takes to deplete stored hormone will greatly depend on species, developmental status and numerous other factors.

In Xenopus, Haselman et al. (2020) demonstrated an approximately 5 day difference between a significant decrease in thyroidal T4 preceding a significant decrease in circulating T4 while exposed to a potent TPO inhibitor (MMI) continuously during pro-metamorphosis.   

Known modulating factors
This sub-section presents information regarding modulating factors/variables known to alter the shape of the response-response function that describes the quantitative relationship between the two KEs (for example, an iodine deficient diet causes a significant increase in the slope of the relationship; a particular genotype doubles the sensitivity of KEdownstream to changes in KEupstream). Information on these known modulating factors should be listed in this subsection, along with relevant information regarding the manner in which the modulating factor can be expected to alter the relationship (if known). Note, this section should focus on those modulating factors for which solid evidence supported by relevant data and literature is available. It should NOT list all possible/plausible modulating factors. In this regard, it is useful to bear in mind that many risk assessments conducted through conventional apical guideline testing-based approaches generally consider few if any modulating factors. More help

During Xenopus metamorphosis, circulating T4 steadily increases to peak levels at metamorphic climax. Therefore, during Xenopus metamorphosis, this KER is operable at an increased rate as compared to a system that is maintaining steady circulating T4 levels through homeostatic control. In this case, developmental status is a modulating factor for the rates and trajectories of these KEs. 

Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
This subsection should define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits? In some cases where feedback processes are measurable and causally linked to the outcome, they should be represented as KEs. However, in most cases these features are expected to predominantly influence the shape of the response-response, time-course, behaviours between selected KEs. For example, if a feedback loop acts as compensatory mechanism that aims to restore homeostasis following initial perturbation of a KE, the feedback loop will directly shape the response-response relationship between the KERs. Given interest in formally identifying these positive or negative feedback, it is recommended that a graphical annotation (page 44) indicating a positive or negative feedback loop is involved in a particular upstream to downstream KE transition (KER) be added to the graphical representation, and that details be provided in this subsection of the KER description (see pages 44-45 of the User Handbook).  More help

This KER is entirely influenced by the feedback loop between circulating T4 originating from the thyroid gland and circulating TSH originating from the pituitary. Intermediate biochemical processes exist within the hypothalamus to affirm feedback and coordinately release TSH from the pituitary. However, quantitative representations of these feedback processes are limited to models discussed previously.

In Xenopus, circulating levels of T4 increase through pro-metamorphosis indicating a "release" of feedback to allow circulating levels of T4 to increase and drive metamorphic changes (Sternberg et al., 2011). This provides evidence that homeostatic control of feedback can be developmentally dependent, and likely species dependent.  

Domain of Applicability

As for the KEs, there is also a free-text section of the KER description that the developer can use to explain his/her rationale for the structured terms selected with regard to taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability, or provide a more generalizable or nuanced description of the applicability domain than may be feasible using standardized terms. More help

While a majority of the empirical evidence comes from work with laboratory rodents, there is a large amount of supporting data from humans (with anti-hyperthyroidism drugs including propylthiouracil and methimazole), some amphibian species (e.g., frog), and some avian species (e.g, chicken).  The following are samples from a large literature that supports this concept: Cooper et al. (1982; 1983); Hornung et al. (2010); Van Herck et al. (2013); Paul et al. (2013); Alexander et al. (2017).


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description using the appropriate format. Ideally, the list of references should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide (OECD, 2015). More help

Alexander EK, Pearce EN, Brent GA, Brown RS, Chen H, Dosiou C, Grobman WA, Laurberg P, Lazarus JH, Mandel SJ, Peeters RP, Sullivan S.  2017 Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association for the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy and the Postpartum. Thyroid. 2017 Mar;27(3):315-389.

Antonica F, Kasprzyk DF, Opitz R, Iacovino M, Liao XH, Dumitrescu AM, Refetoff S, Peremans K, Manto M, Kyba M, Costagliola S.  Generation of functional thyroid from embryonic stem cells.  Nature. 2012 491(7422):66-71.

Atterwill CK, Fowler KF. A comparison of cultured rat FRTL-5 and porcine thyroid cells for predicting the thyroid toxicity of xenobiotics. Toxicol In Vitro. 1990. 4(4-5):369-74.

Braverman, L.E. and Utiger, R.D. (2012). Werner and Ingbar's The Thyroid: A Fundamental and Clinical Text (10 ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 775-786. ISBN 978-1451120639.

Brown CG, Fowler KL, Nicholls PJ, Atterwill C. Assessment of thyrotoxicity using in vitro cell culture systems. Food Chem Toxicol. 1986 24(6-7):557-62.

Brucker-Davis F. Effects of environmental synthetic chemicals on thyroid function. Thyroid. 1998 8(9):827-56.

Cooper DS, Kieffer JD, Halpern R, Saxe V, Mover H, Maloof F, Ridgway EC (1983) Propylthiouracil (PTU) pharmacology in the rat. II. Effects of PTU on thyroid function. Endocrinology 113:921-928.

Cooper DS, Saxe VC, Meskell M, Maloof F, Ridgway EC.Acute effects of propylthiouracil (PTU) on thyroidal iodide organification and peripheral iodothyronine deiodination: correlation with serum PTU levels measured by radioimmunoassay. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1982 54(1):101-7.

Degon, M., Chipkin, S.R., Hollot, C.V., Zoeller, R.T., and Chait, Y. (2008). A computational model of the human thyroid. Mathematical Biosciences 212, 22–53

Ekerot P, Ferguson D, Glämsta EL, Nilsson LB, Andersson H, Rosqvist S, Visser SA. Systems pharmacology modeling of drug-induced modulation of thyroid hormones in dogs and translation to human. Pharm Res. 2013 30(6):1513-24.

Fisher JW, Li S, Crofton K, Zoeller RT, McLanahan ED, Lumen A, Gilbert ME.  Evaluation of iodide deficiency in the lactating rat and pup using a biologically based dose-response model. Toxicol Sci. 2013 132(1):75-86.

Gilbert ME, Hedge JM, Valentín-Blasini L, Blount BC, Kannan K, Tietge J, Zoeller RT, Crofton KM, Jarrett JM, Fisher JW.  An animal model of marginal iodine deficiency during development: the thyroid axis and neurodevelopmental outcome.  Toxicol Sci. 2013 132(1):177-95.

Haselman, J.T., Olker, J.H., Kosian, P.A., Korte, J.J., Swintek, J.A., Denny, J.S., Nichols, J.W., Tietge, J.E., Hornung, M.W. and Degitz, S.J., 2020. Targeted pathway-based in vivo testing using thyroperoxidase inhibition to evaluate plasma thyroxine as a surrogate metric of metamorphic success in model amphibian Xenopus laevis. Toxicological Sciences175(2), pp.236-250.

Hassan, I., El-Masri, H., Ford, J., Brennan, A., Handa, S., Paul Friedman, K. and Gilbert, M.E., 2020. Extrapolating in vitro screening assay data for thyroperoxidase inhibition to predict serum thyroid hormones in the rat. Toxicological Sciences173(2), pp.280-292.

Hassan, I, El-Masri, H., Kosian, PA, Ford, J, Degitz, SJ and Gilbert, ME. Quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathway for Neurodevelopmental Effects of Thyroid Peroxidase-Induced Thyroid Hormone Synthesis Inhibition. Toxicol Sci. 2017 Nov 1;160(1):57-73

Hornung MW, Degitz SJ, Korte LM, Olson JM, Kosian PA, Linnum AL, Tietge JE. Inhibition of thyroid hormone release from cultured amphibian thyroid glands by methimazole, 6-propylthiouracil, and perchlorate. Toxicol Sci. 2010 118(1):42-51.

Hurley PM. Mode of carcinogenic action of pesticides inducing thyroid follicular cell tumors in rodents. Environ Health Perspect. 1998 106(8):437-45.

King DB, May JD. Thyroidal influence on body growth. J Exp Zool. 1984 Dec;232(3):453-60.

Köhrle J. Environment and endocrinology: the case of thyroidology. Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2008 69(2):116-22.

Leonard JA, Tan YM, Gilbert M, Isaacs K, El-Masri H. Estimating margin of exposure to thyroid peroxidase inhibitors using high-throughput in vitro data, high-throughput exposure modeling, and physiologically based pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling. Toxicol Sci. 2016 151(1):57-70.

Lu, M-H, and Anderson, RR. Thyroxine secretion rats during pregnancy in the rat.  Endo Res. 1994. 20(4):343-364.

Paul KB, Hedge JM, Macherla C, Filer DL, Burgess E, Simmons SO, Crofton KM, Hornung MW. Cross-species analysis of thyroperoxidase inhibition by xenobiotics demonstrates conservation of response between pig and rat. Toxicology. 2013. 312:97-107.

Sternberg, R.M., Thoemke, K.R., Korte, J.J., Moen, S.M., Olson, J.M., Korte, L., Tietge, J.E. and Degitz Jr, S.J., 2011. Control of pituitary thyroid-stimulating hormone synthesis and secretion by thyroid hormones during Xenopus metamorphosis. General and comparative endocrinology173(3), pp.428-437.

Tietge, J.E., Butterworth, B.C., Haselman, J.T., Holcombe, G.W., Hornung, M.W., Korte, J.J., Kosian, P.A., Wolfe, M. and Degitz, S.J., 2010. Early temporal effects of three thyroid hormone synthesis inhibitors in Xenopus laevis. Aquatic Toxicology, 98(1), pp.44-50.

Van Herck SL, Geysens S, Delbaere J, Darras VM.  Regulators of thyroid hormone availability and action in embryonic chicken brain development. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013. 190:96-104.

Zoeller, R. T., Tan, S. W., and Tyl, R. W. (2007). General background on the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis. Critical reviews in toxicology 37(1-2), 11-53.