Since its discovery, transthyretin (TTR) has been regarded as an important hepatically derived protein carrier of thyroid hormones and retinol in blood. However, in more recent years it has been shown that TTR has other important functions. TTR is abundant in cerebrospinal fluid, where it may be involved in transport of thyroid hormones into the brain. TTR derived amyloid is associated with diseases such as senile systemic amyloidosis, familial amyloid polyneuropathy and familial amyloid cardiomyopathy.
Recently, synthesis, secretion and uptake of TTR by human placenta have been reported. TTR appears to play an important role in the delivery of maternal thyroid hormone to the developing fetus. This review explores the various proposed roles of TTR and more recent findings on TTR synthesis and expression in the placenta.