The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland, situated in the neck, that secretes hormones necessary for growth and proper metabolism. It consists of two lobes connected by a narrow segment called the isthmus. The lobes lie on either side of the trachea, the isthmus in front of it. Thyroid tissue is composed of millions of tiny saclike follicles, which store thyroid hormone in the form of thyroglobulin, a glycoprotein. Blood capillaries attached to the gland yield a constant supply of plasma. The protein thyroglobulin is the chief component of the jellylike substance, called colloid, that is secreted by the follicles. It attaches to the thyroid hormone for storage purposes; when the hormone is ready to be released, the protein detaches itself. Before it is released into the bloodstream, the thyroid hormone is converted into thyroxine and small quantities of the other closely related thyroid hormones. The amount of thyroxine production (and therefore the metabolic rate) is dependent on a sufficient intake of iodine and on stimulation by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland.
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