Objectives. Thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolic rate and plays an exquisitely important role in the human health. Fluoride exposure can affect thyroid function. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that works through several mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to demonstrate the hormonal, histological, and ultrastructural changes occurred in the thyroid gland induced by exposure to sodium fluoride (NaF) and study the possible protective effect of curcumin on the NaF-induced effects.

Methods. Thirty male albino rats were randomly divided into 3 equal groups (10 rats each): the control group, NaF group, and NaF+Curcumin (NaF+Cur) group. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) levels were assayed and thyroid tissues processed for light and transmission electron microscopic study.

Results. In NaF group, serum T3 and T4 levels were significantly decreased whereas TSH level was significantly increased compared to the control group. Thyroid tissues showed flattening of the epithelial lining with several follicular cell degenerations, hyperplasia, decreased colloid, disrupted basement membrane, cytoplasmic vacuolations, degenerated mitochondria, widening of rough endoplasmic reticulum cisternae, and vascular congestion compared to the control group. In the NaF+Cur group, serum TSH levels were significantly decreased in comparison with NaF group and no significant difference in comparison with the control group. Thyroid sections appeared apparently normal compared to the control group and NaF group.

Conclusions. Sodium fluoride affected both the function and structure of the thyroid gland while curcumin was protective against these toxic effects.