Thyroid hormone (TH) levels are low during development, and the deiodinases control TH signaling through tissue-specific activation or inactivation of TH. Here, we studied human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived (iPSC-derived) hepatic organoids and identified a robust induction of DIO2 expression (the deiodinase that activates T4 to T3) that occurs in hepatoblasts. The surge in DIO2-T3 (the deiodinase that activates thyroxine [T4] to triiodothyronine [T3]) persists until the hepatoblasts differentiate into hepatocyte- or cholangiocyte-like cells, neither of which expresses DIO2. Preventing the induction of the DIO2-T3 signaling modified the expression of key transcription factors, decreased the number of hepatocyte-like cells by ~60%, and increased the number of cholangiocyte-like cells by ~55% without affecting the growth or the size of the mature liver organoid. Physiological levels of T3 could not fully restore the transition from hepatoblasts to mature cells. This indicates that the timed surge in DIO2-T3 signaling critically determines the fate of developing human hepatoblasts and the transcriptome of the maturing hepatocytes, with physiological and clinical implications for how the liver handles energy substrates.
Jorge Hidalgo-Álvarez, Federico Salas-Lucia, Diana Vera Cruz, Tatiana L. Fonseca, Antonio C. Bianco