Thyrotropin-releasing hormone

Last updated
thyrotropin-releasing hormone
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone.svg
NCBI gene 7200
HGNC 12298
OMIM 275120
RefSeq NM_007117
UniProt P20396
Other data
Locus Chr. 3 q13.3-q21
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone
Clinical data
ATC code
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard 100.041.934 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Chemical and physical data
Formula C16H22N6O4
Molar mass 362.390 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), is a hypophysiotropic hormone, produced by neurons in the hypothalamus, that stimulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin from the anterior pituitary.


TRH has been used clinically for the treatment of spinocerebellar degeneration and disturbance of consciousness in humans. [1] Its pharmaceutical form is called protirelin (INN) ( /prˈtrɪlɪn/ ).

Synthesis and Release

The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. TRH can be seen in green. Thyroid system.svg
The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. TRH can be seen in green.

TRH is synthesized within parvocellular neurons of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. [2] It is translated as a 242-amino acid precursor polypeptide that contains 6 copies of the sequence -Gln-His-Pro-Gly-, flanked by Lys-Arg or Arg-Arg sequences.

To produce the mature form, a series of enzymes are required. First, a protease cleaves to the C-terminal side of the flanking Lys-Arg or Arg-Arg. Second, a carboxypeptidase removes the Lys/Arg residues leaving Gly as the C-terminal residue. Then, this Gly is converted into an amide residue by a series of enzymes collectively known as peptidylglycine-alpha-amidating monooxygenase. Concurrently with these processing steps, the N-terminal Gln (glutamine) is converted into pyroglutamate (a cyclic residue). These multiple steps produce 6 copies of the mature TRH molecule per precursor molecule for human TRH (5 for mouse TRH).

TRH synthesizing neurons of the paraventricular nucleus project to the medial portion of the external layer of the median eminence. Following secretion at the median eminence, TRH travels to the anterior pituitary via the hypophyseal portal system where it binds to the TRH receptor stimulating the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone from thyrotropes and prolactin from lactotropes. [3] The half-life of TRH in the blood is approximately 6 minutes.


TRH is a tripeptide, with an amino acid sequence of pyroglutamyl-histidyl-proline amide.


The structure of TRH was first determined, and the hormone synthesized, by Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally in 1969. [4] [5] Both parties insisted their labs determined the sequence first: Schally first suggested the possibility in 1966, but abandoned it after Guillemin proposed TRH was not actually a peptide. Guillemin's chemist began concurring with these results in 1969, as NIH threatened to cut off funding for the project, leading both parties to return to work on synthesis. [6]

Schally and Guillemin shared the 1977 Nobel Prize in Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the peptide hormone production of the brain." [7] News accounts of their work often focused on their "fierce competition" and use of a very large amount of sheep and pig brains to locate the hormone. [6]

Clinical significance

TRH is used clinically by intravenous injection (brand name Relefact TRH) to test the response of the anterior pituitary gland; this procedure is known as a TRH test. This is done as diagnostic test of thyroid disorders such as secondary hypothyroidism and in acromegaly.

TRH has anti-depressant and anti-suicidal properties, [8] and in 2012 the U.S. Army awarded a research grant to develop a TRH nasal spray in order to prevent suicide amongst its ranks. [9] [10]

TRH has been shown in mice to be an anti-aging agent with a broad spectrum of activities that, because of their actions, suggest that TRH has a fundamental role in the regulation of metabolic and hormonal functions. [11]

Side effects

Side effects after intravenous TRH administration are minimal. [12] Nausea, flushing, urinary urgency, and mild rise in blood pressure have been reported. [13] After intrathecal administration, shaking, sweating, shivering, restlessness, and mild rise in blood pressure were observed. [8]

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
Pfam PF05438
InterPro IPR008857

See also

Related Research Articles

Pituitary gland Endocrine gland at the base of the brain

In vertebrate anatomy, the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland, about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 grams (0.018 oz) in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. The hypophysis rests upon the hypophysial fossa of the sphenoid bone in the center of the middle cranial fossa and is surrounded by a small bony cavity covered by a dural fold. The anterior pituitary is a lobe of the gland that regulates several physiological processes. The intermediate lobe synthesizes and secretes melanocyte-stimulating hormone. The posterior pituitary is a lobe of the gland that is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence via a small tube called the pituitary stalk.

Hypothalamus Area of the brain below the thalamus

The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a variety of functions. One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is located below the thalamus and is part of the limbic system. In the terminology of neuroanatomy, it forms the ventral part of the diencephalon. All vertebrate brains contain a hypothalamus. In humans, it is the size of an almond. The hypothalamus is responsible for the regulation of certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and secretes certain neurohormones, called releasing hormones or hypothalamic hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviours, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms. The hypothalamus derives its name from Greek ὑπό, under and θάλαμος, chamber.

Tripeptide peptide consisting of three amino acids joined by peptide bonds

A tripeptide is a peptide derived from three amino acids joined by two or sometimes three peptide bonds. As for proteins, the function of peptides is determined by the consistuent amino acids and their sequence. The simplest tripeptide is glycylglycylglycine. In terms of scientific investigations, the dominant tripeptide is glutathione (γ-L-Glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycine), which serves many roles in many forms of life.

Posterior pituitary Posterior lobe of the pituitary gland

The posterior pituitary is the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland which is part of the endocrine system. The posterior pituitary is not glandular as is the anterior pituitary. Instead, it is largely a collection of axonal projections from the hypothalamus that terminate behind the anterior pituitary, and serve as a site for the secretion of neurohypophysial hormones directly into the blood. The hypothalamic–neurohypophyseal system is composed of the hypothalamus, posterior pituitary, and these axonal projections.

Paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus

The paraventricular nucleus is a nucleus in the hypothalamus. It is a group of neurons that can be activated by physiological changes including stress. Many PVN neurons project directly to the posterior pituitary where they release oxytocin into the general circulation. The supraoptic nucleus releases vasopressin. Both the PVN and the supraoptic nucleus do produce small amounts of the other hormone, ADH and Oxytocin respectively. Other PVN neurons control various anterior pituitary functions, while still others directly regulate appetite and autonomic functions in the brainstem and spinal cord.

Arcuate nucleus

The arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus is an aggregation of neurons in the mediobasal hypothalamus, adjacent to the third ventricle and the median eminence. The arcuate nucleus includes several important and diverse populations of neurons that help mediate different neuroendocrine and physiological functions, including neuroendocrine neurons, centrally projecting neurons, and astrocytes. The populations of neurons found in the arcuate nucleus are based on the hormones they secrete or interact with and are responsible for hypothalamic function, such as regulating hormones released from the pituitary gland or secreting their own hormones. Neurons in this region are also responsible for integrating information and providing inputs to other nuclei in the hypothalamus or inputs to areas outside this region of the brain. These neurons, generated from the ventral part of the periventricular epithelium during embryonic development, locate dorsally in the hypothalamus, becoming part of the ventromedial hypothalamic region. The function of the arcuate nucleus relies on its diversity of neurons, but its central role is involved in homeostasis. The arcuate nucleus provides many physiological roles involved in feeding, metabolism, fertility, and cardiovascular regulation.

Median eminence below the hypothalamus of the brain

The median eminence, part of the inferior boundary of the hypothalamus in the brain, is attached to the infundibulum. The median eminence is a small swelling on the tuber cinereum, posterior to and atop the pituitary stalk; it lies in the area roughly bounded on its posterolateral region by the cerebral peduncles, and on its anterolateral region by the optic chiasm.

A neurohormone is any hormone produced and released by neuroendocrine cells into the blood. By definition of being hormones, they are secreted into the circulation for systemic effect, but they can also have a role of neurotransmitter or other roles such as autocrine (self) or paracrine (local) messenger.

Neuroendocrine cells are cells that receive neuronal input and, as a consequence of this input, release message molecules (hormones) into the blood. In this way they bring about an integration between the nervous system and the endocrine system, a process known as neuroendocrine integration. An example of a neuroendocrine cell is a cell of the adrenal medulla, which releases adrenaline to the blood. The adrenal medullary cells are controlled by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. These cells are modified postganglionic neurons. Autonomic nerve fibers lead directly to them from the central nervous system. The adrenal medullary hormones are kept in vesicles much in the same way neurotransmitters are kept in neuronal vesicles. Hormonal effects can last up to ten times longer than those of neurotransmitters. Sympathetic nerve fiber impulses stimulate the release of adrenal medullary hormones. In this way the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system and the medullary secretions function together.

Neurophysin I is a carrier protein with a size of 10 KDa and contains 90 to 97 amino acids. It is a cleavage product of preprooxyphysin. It is a neurohypophysial hormone that is transported in vesicles with oxytocin, the other cleavage product, along axons, from magnocellular neurons of the hypothalamus to the posterior lobe of the pituitary. Although it is stored in neurosecretory granules with oxytocin and released with oxytocin, its biological action is unclear.

Releasing hormones and inhibiting hormones are hormones whose main purpose is to control the release of other hormones, either by stimulating or inhibiting their release. They are also called liberins and statins (respectively), or releasing factors and inhibiting factors. The examples are hypothalamic-pituitary hormones that can be classified from several viewpoints: they are hypothalamic hormones, they are hypophysiotropic hormones, and they are tropic hormones.

Neuroendocrinology is the branch of biology which studies the interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system, that is how the brain regulates the hormonal activity in the body. The nervous and endocrine systems often act together in a process called neuroendocrine integration, to regulate the physiological processes of the human body. Neuroendocrinology arose from the recognition that the brain, especially the hypothalamus, controls secretion of pituitary gland hormones, and has subsequently expanded to investigate numerous interconnections of the endocrine and nervous systems.

Hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis part of the neuroendocrine system responsible for the regulation of metabolism.

The hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis is part of the neuroendocrine system responsible for the regulation of metabolism and also responds to stress.

Neurophysin II cleavage product of the coding protein of AVP gene

Neurophysin II is a carrier protein with a size of 19,687.3 Da and is made up of a dimer of two virtually identical chains of amino acids. Neurophysin II is a cleavage product of the prepro-vasopressin. It is a neurohypophysial hormone that is transported in vesicles with vasopressin, the other cleavage product, along axons, from magnocellular neurons of the hypothalamus to the posterior lobe of the pituitary. Although it is stored in neurosecretory granules with vasopressin and released with vasopressin into the bloodstream, its biological action is unclear. Neurophysin II is also known as a stimulator of prolactin secretion.

A Combined rapid anterior pituitary evaluation panel or triple bolus test or a dynamic pituitary function test is a medical diagnostic procedure used to assess a patient's pituitary function. A triple bolus test is usually ordered and interpreted by endocrinologists.

Hypothalamic–pituitary hormones are hormones that are produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Although the organs in which they are produced are relatively small, the effects of these hormones cascade throughout the body. They can be classified as a hypothalamic–pituitary axis of which the adrenal (HPA), gonadal (HPG), thyroid (HPT), somatotropic (HPS), and prolactin (HPP) axes are branches.

Hypothalamic disease is a disorder presenting primarily in the hypothalamus, which may be caused by damage resulting from malnutrition, including anorexia and bulimia eating disorders, genetic disorders, radiation, surgery, head trauma, lesion, tumour or other physical injury to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the control center for several endocrine functions. Endocrine systems controlled by the hypothalamus are regulated by antidiuretic hormone (ADH), corticotropin-releasing hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, growth hormone-releasing hormone, oxytocin, all of which are secreted by the hypothalamus. Damage to the hypothalamus may impact any of these hormones and the related endocrine systems. Many of these hypothalamic hormones act on the pituitary gland. Hypothalamic disease therefore affects the functioning of the pituitary and the target organs controlled by the pituitary, including the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes, and the thyroid gland.

Prior to the availability of sensitive TSH assays, thyrotropin releasing hormone or TRH stimulation tests were relied upon for confirming and assessing the degree of suppression in suspected hyperthyroidism. Typically, this stimulation test involves determining basal TSH levels and levels 15 to 30 minutes after an intravenous bolus of TRH. Normally, TSH would rise into the concentration range measurable with less sensitive TSH assays. Third generation TSH assays do not have this limitation and thus TRH stimulation is generally not required when third generation TSH assays are used to assess degree of suppression.

Parvocellular neurosecretory cells are small neurons within paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. The axons of the parvocellular neurosecretory cells of the PVN project to the median eminence, at the base of the brain, where their neurosecretory nerve terminals release peptides into blood vessels in the hypothalamo-pituitary portal system. The blood vessels carry the peptides to the anterior pituitary gland, where they regulate the secretion of hormones into the systemic circulation.

Gonadotropin Inhibitory Hormone (GnIH) is a RFamide-related peptide coded by the NPVF gene in mammals.


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