Sodium Phenylbutyrate Rescues Thyroid Hormone Transport in Brain Endothelial-Like Cells

Doreen Braun, Simon Bohleber, Gad D. Vatine, Clive N. Svendsen, Ulrich Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8) deficiency is a rare genetic disease leading to a severe developmental delay due to a lack of thyroid hormones (THs) during critical stages of human brain development. Some MCT8-deficient patients are not as severely affected as others. Previously, we hypothesized that these patients' mutations do not affect the functionality but destabilize the MCT8 protein, leading to a diminished number of functional MCT8 molecules at the cell surface. Methods: We have already demonstrated that the chemical chaperone sodium phenylbutyrate (NaPB) rescues the function of these mutants by stabilizing their protein expression in an overexpressing cell system. Here, we expanded our previous work and used iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cell)-derived brain microvascular endothelial-like cells (iBMECs) as a physiologically relevant cell model of human origin to test for NaPB responsiveness. The effects on mutant MCT8 expression and function were tested by Western blotting and radioactive uptake assays. Results: We found that NaPB rescues decreased mutant MCT8 expression and restores transport function in iBMECs carrying patient's mutation MCT8-P321L. Further, we identified MCT10 as an alternative TH transporter in iBMECs that contributes to triiodothyronine uptake, the biological active TH. Our results indicate an upregulation of MCT10 after NaPB treatment. In addition, we detected an increase in thyroxine (T4) uptake after NaPB treatment that was not mediated by rescued MCT8 but an unidentified T4 transporter. Conclusions: We demonstrate that NaPB is suitable to stabilize a pathogenic missense mutation in a human-derived cell model. Further, it activates TH transport independent of MCT8. Both options fuel future studies to investigate repurposing the Food and Drug Administration-Approved drug NaPB in selected cases of MCT8 deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-870
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • MCT8
  • chemical chaperone
  • iBMECs
  • sodium phenylbutyrate
  • thyroid hormone transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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