The role of oxidative stress in physiological and pathological processes in the thyroid gland; possible involvement in pineal-thyroid interactions.

: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role in physiological processes, but - when being in excess - ROS cause oxidative damage to molecules. Under physiological conditions, the production and detoxification of ROS are more-or-less balanced. Also in the thyroid, ROS and free radicals participate in physiological and pathological processes in the gland. For example, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is crucial for thyroid hormone biosynthesis, acting at different steps of the process. Additionally, H2O2 is believed to participate in the Wolff-Chaikoff's effect, undergoing in conditions of iodide excess in the thyroid. Much evidence has been accumulated indicating that oxidative stress is involved in pathomechanism of thyroid disease, e.g., Graves' disease, goiter formation or thyroid cancer. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) - the main secretory product of the pineal gland - is a well-known antioxidant and free radical scavenger, widely distributed in the organism. Mutual relationships between the pineal gland and the thyroid have - for a long time - been a subject of intensive research. The abundant to-date's evidence relates mostly to the inhibitory action of melatonin on the thyroid growth and function and - to a lesser extent - to the stimulatory effects of thyroid hormones on the pineal gland. It is highly probable that under physiological conditions melatonin and, possibly, other antioxidants regulate ROS generation for thyroid hormone synthesis. We believe that melatonin may protect against extensive oxidative damage in the course of certain thyroid disorders or in case of a harmful action of some external factors on the thyroid. Thus, oxidative damage and the protective action of antioxidants, melatonin included, may occur during both physiological and pathological processes in the thyroid, however, this assumption, requires further studies.