Droplets which stain like colloid occur in the cytoplasm of the thyroid follicular epithelium of the rat following stimulation of the gland by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The occurrence of droplets was remarkably reduced when the lumen became depleted of colloid. Acid phosphatase and esterase were localized in the thyroid droplets and, in addition, in granules largely around the nucleus. Stimulation by TSH resulted in an increase in the number of droplets containing enzyme. Twenty-four hours after hypophysectomy, enzyme-associated granules were localized at the basal end of the cell and droplets were absent. Intravenous injection of TSH resulted in formation of droplets at the apical end of the cell and migration of enzyme-associated granules toward the apical end of the cell. The droplets were first observed approximately 10 minutes after TSH administration and at this time did not appear to contain enzyme. Within 15 minutes many droplets contained enzyme. The granules were largely localized near the nucleus on its apical side 30 minutes after a dose of 25 milliunits of TSH, but were less well localized following one-tenth this dose. These results indicate that the epithelial cell of the thyroid gland contains preformed hydrolytic enzymes associated with granules (lysosomes). When the gland is stimulated by TSH, droplets are formed from colloid derived from the lumen (phagosomes), and hydrolytic enzymes are transferred from granules to the droplets. The droplets may be intracellular organelles for hydrolysis of colloid and liberation of thyroxine prior to the release of thyroxine into the blood.

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