The morphology and function of the thyroids of female adult Wistar rats were investigated. The animals were either castrated or intact and kept in a hypothyroid condition by a treatment with propylthiouracil for 120 days. Castrated and intact euthyroid rats were used as controls. The thyroids were collected at the end of the experiment, weighted, histologically processed, and morphometrically evaluated. Proportions of each glandular component, namely, follicular epithelium, colloid, and stroma, were determined. Serum concentrations of total T3, free T4, and TSH were assessed at the end of the experimental period. The weight and the morphometric parameters were not influenced by castration, whereas an increase in the epithelial component associated with a decreased amount of colloid were observed only in hypothyroid animals. Under an euthyroid state, the deficiency of sexual hormones induced an increase in the levels of free T4 and total T3. In hypothyroid animals, withdrawal of sexual hormones caused an exacerbation of the decrease in total T3, but not in free T4. TSH levels were not affected by the thyroid or the functional condition of gonads. In conclusion, hypogonadism did not influence the glandular hyperplasia and decrease in plasmatic levels of free thyroxin induced by propylthiouracil, but markedly changed the profile of total T3 according to the functional condition of the thyroid, in the absence of changes in the plasmatic levels of TSH.
Rat; hypogonadism; hypothyroidism; thyroid