thyroxine [key], substance secreted by the thyroid gland. The hormone thyroxine forms by combining the amino acid tyrosine with iodine. Complexed to a protein, it is stored in the follicle stems between thyroid cells. Thyroxine enters into the bloodstream complexed to another protein, plasma globulin. Thyroxine increases the number and activity of mitochondria in cells by binding to the cells' DNA, increasing the basal metabolic rate. Administration of thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine, causes an increase in the rate of carbohydrate metabolism and a rise in the rate of protein synthesis and breakdown. The hormone, which excites the nervous system and leads to increased activity of the endocrine system, remains active in the body for more than a month. Thyroxine activity is controlled by thyrotropin, a substance released from the pituitary gland. Conversely, thyroxine regulates the effect of thyrotropin by feedback inhibition, i.e., high levels of thyroxine depress the rate of thyrotropin secretion. Synthetically prepared thyroxine is used clinically in the treatment of thyroid gland deficiency diseases in adults and in the treatment of cretinism in children.
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