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Iodine Research

Resource Network of The Iodine Movement

                                    Iodine and the Body


Iodine is concentrated in the salivary glands via the NIS symporter.  Exactly what happens to this
iodine is not yet fully understood.

Radioactive iodine concentrates in the salivary gland, causing undesirable side effects from RAI

Iodine is commonly used as a disinfectant for periodontal conditions.

Iodine may also be involved in tooth formation, with fluoride being taken up by mechanisms
intended for iodine uptake.

Venturi discusses iodine evolution and how the salivary glands came to have high iodine-
concentrating capacity via an efficient NIS.  He states that the salivary glands and gastric mucosa
have the ability to concentrate iodides, as well as to form iodocompounds by peroxidases.

Venturi believes that the antioxidant, apoptosis-inductor and presumed antitumor activities of iodide
might be useful in oral health and in prevention of salivary gland cancers.

Spitzweg analyzes human sodium iodide symporter gene expression in extrathyroidal tissues,
including the salivary gland.

Mandel discussed the process of concentrating iodine in the salivary glands, thus exposing them
to the damaging effects of irradiation from radioactive iodine.

Jorgensen discusses povidone-iodine as a periodontal pocket disinfectant.

Derry suggests that iodine is important in teeth and bones, especially when they are growing.  
Fluoride is taking the place of the iodine that should be in the teeth.

The effects of castration on the ultrastructure and the iodide-concentrating ability of mouse
submaxillary salivary glands.
Rogers AW, Brown-Grant K
J Anat. 1971 May;109(Pt 1):51-62.

Previous studies have shown that the submaxillary gland of castrated male mice concentrate
inorganic iodide to higher level than those of control males.  Glands from both groups of mice have
been autoradiographed following an injection of [125-I]-iodide, using a technique that permits the
localization of diffusible material.  In both groups, iodide was concentrated in the cytoplasm of cells
of the convoluted granular tubules (CGT).  Lower levels of concentration were also seen in the
epithelium of the interlobular ducts and in their luminal contents.

Cells of the CGT of normal males contained abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) with
many dilated cisternae, and apical secretion granules.  Infoldings of the basal cell membrane, with
many associated mitochondria, were seen.  Following castration, cells of the CGT were smaller: the
RER largely disappeared.  The infoldings of the basal cell membrane, with their associated
mitochondria, formed a conspicuous array visible as basal striations under the light microscope.

These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that active transport of iodide is a function of the
cell membrane, which produces a high concentration of this ion in the cytoplasm.  Castration
eliminates from the cells the cisternae of RER, reducing the volume of the CGT and of the whole
gland, without reducing the volume of the cytoplasmic compartment within which the iodide ion is

Failure to demonstrate a concentration of iodide by the submandibular gland of the rat.
Brown-Grant K
J Physiol. 1963 Mar;165:519-27.

1. The submandibular gland of the rat does not concentrate iodide in vivo or in vitro.
2.  Alterations in gland structure induced by hypothyroidism, castration or large doses of iso-
propylnoradrenaline do not result in iodide concentration.
3.  Organic binding of iodine by gland slices incubated in a simple saline medium has been

The relation between structure and the concentration of iodide by the submandibular glands of
mice and hamsters.
Brown-Grant K, Taylor W
J Physiol. 1963 Mar;165:508-18.

1. The gland/blood ratio in vivo and the tissue/medium ratio in vitro for 1311-iodide is higher for the
submandibular glands of male than those of female mice.
2. Glands from hypothyroid or castrate male mice show higher ratios than those from normal
controls, although the convoluted granular tubules are histologically atrophic.
3. The glands of young mice and hamsters concentrate iodide in vivo before the convoluted
granular tubules develop.
4. It is suggested that these ratios measure the iodide-concentrating capacity of the glands and
that this capacity is retained or even enhanced in the histologically atrophic tubule.

Green Tea and Fluoride
Derry D (Interview with Mary Shomon)

Although, we do have fluoride in our bodies there is no normal physiological function for it. In higher
amounts it is toxic. Iodine is the most important element in our bodies by far. But what is important is
fluoride is in the same chemical family as iodine and can replace iodine in the body if the iodine is
deficient. But ideally one never wants to do that as fluoride is a toxin and should not be used to
replace normal iodine functions.

Some countries are fluoridating their water supply for the theoretical benefits of fluoride helping to
prevent cavities. What is happening is the ingested fluoride takes the place of iodine that should be
there in the teeth, especially growing teeth. Iodine and thyroid for example have complete control of
tooth growth along with some help from growth hormone. (6-8) It is only because our iodine intake
has been decreasing over the years that fluoride has been mistakenly added to our water with the
idea of helping children's teeth. It would have made more scientific sense to have added more

Fluoride has also been used against osteoporosis with beneficial results. This again is just
replacing what iodine should be doing. The minor problems of osteopenia (minor loss of calcium)
seen in some patients put on thyroid is related to the fact that the same patients are low in iodine.
The low iodine causes the hypothyroidism and also the inappropriate short term bone response. If
iodine is given with the thyroid hormone this abnormal response can be avoided. So persons taking
adequate daily iodine will unlikely to ever develop osteoporosis.

Radioactive iodine injected into patients shows a full outline of the bones on a total body scan. This
means one of the places iodine goes to immediately is bones. Thyroid hormone makes bones grow,
mature and remodel, when necessary. Together thyroid hormone, iodine and growth hormone
maintain a healthy bone structure. As vertebrates (animals with backbones) are the only animals
with thyroid glands it makes sense that iodine and thyroid control bone structure and function.

Green tea is supposed to help prevent stomach cancer in China. But in fact the way to prevent
stomach cancer is to take more iodine. (9) Thus the benefits of the Green tea may be related to the
fluoride in the tea substituting for iodine. Iodine therapy would be more effective.

An immunohistochemical study of Na+/I- symporter in human thyroid tissues and salivary gland
Jhiang SM, Cho JY, Ryu KY, DeYoung BR, Smanik PA, McGaughy VR, Fischer AH, Mazzaferri EL.
Endocrinology. 1998 Oct;139(10):4416-9.

The human Na+/I- symporter (hNIS) is the plasma membrane protein that mediates active iodide
uptake into several tissues, such as the thyroid and salivary glands. To study the distribution and
cellular localization of the hNIS protein, we have generated a polyclonal antibody that could detect
the hNIS protein by immunohistochemical staining on tissue sections. In normal thyroids, hNIS
expression is heterogeneous, and it is only detected in sporadic thyrocytes of a given follicle. The
hNIS protein was not detected in thyroid carcinomas, yet it was detected in the majority of
thyrocytes in Graves' thyroids. In salivary glands, hNIS protein was not detected in acinar cells, but
it was detected in ductal cells. The hNIS proteins are clustered in the basal and lateral membranes
in cells stained positive for hNIS.

Povidone-iodine as a periodontal pocket disinfectant.
Hoang T, Jorgensen MG, Keim RG, Pattison AM, Slots J.
J Periodontal Res. 2003 Jun;38(3):311-7.
[abstract only]

OBJECTIVES AND BACKGROUND: Povidone-iodine [polyvinylpyrrolidone-iodine complex (PVP-
iodine)] might constitute a valuable adjunct to current periodontal therapy because of its broad-
spectrum antimicrobial activity, low potential for developing resistance and adverse reactions, wide
availability, ease of use, and low financial cost. This investigation employed a randomized, split-
mouth study design to determine the microbiological and clinical effects of 10% PVP-iodine
subgingival irrigation in periodontitis lesions showing radiographic evidence of subgingival calculus.

METHODS: Sixteen adults having at least one periodontal pocket of 6 mm or more in each
quadrant of the dentition and harboring one or more periodontopathic bacteria participated in the
study. In each subject, a study site in each quadrant was randomly chosen to receive either
subgingival irrigation with 10% PVP-iodine together with scaling and root planing, scaling and root
planing alone, subgingival irrigation with 10% PVP-iodine, or subgingival irrigation with sterile
saline. Prior to therapy and at 5 weeks post-treatment, microbiological culture was carried out
without knowledge of the clinical status or the type of treatment rendered. A blinded clinical
examiner determined presence of dental plaque, probing pocket depth, and gingival bleeding on
probing. Microbiological and clinical data were analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of
variance and Kruskal-Wallis rank test with the Tukey and Mann-Whitney post hoc tests.

RESULTS: At 5 weeks post-treatment, subgingival irrigation with PVP-iodine together with scaling
and root planing caused a 95% or greater reduction in total pathogen counts in 44% of pockets
having >/= 6 mm depth whereas scaling and root planing alone, povidone-iodine irrigation alone
and water irrigation alone caused 95% reduction of total pathogens only in 6-13% of similar study
sites (P = 0.02). Reduction in mean pocket depth was 1.8 mm for the PVP-iodine/scaling and root
planing group, 1.6 mm for the scaling and root planing group, and 0.9 mm for the PVP-iodine and
the saline monotherapy groups, with statistical significance reached for the scaling and root planing
group vs. the PVP-iodine group (P = 0.04) and for the scaling and root planing group vs. the saline
group (P = 0.02). Reduction in visible dental plaque, which ranged from 38% to 62%, showed no
significant differences among treatment groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of subgingival PVP-iodine irrigation to conventional mechanical
therapy may be a cost-effective means of reducing total counts of periodontal pathogens and
helping control periodontal disease. However, subgingival irrigation with PVP-iodine without
concomitant mechanical debridement might not improve microbiological and clinical variables in
comparison with saline irrigation, at least not in sites with radiographic evidence of subgingival

Concentration of radio-iodide and 35-S-thiocyanate by the salivary glands.
Logothetopoulos JH, Myant NB
J Physiol. 1956 Oct 29;134(1):189-94.

It has recently been shown that iodide is concentrated by certain parts of the duct system of the
hamster's salivary glands (Cohen, Logothetopoulos & Myant, 1955). We have now extended these
observations to the salivary glands of mice and rats. Since thiocyanate is known to inhibit the
concentration of iodide in the saliva (Freinkel & Ingbar, 1953; Rowlands, Edwards & Honour, 1953)
we have also studied the concentration of 35S-labelled thiocyanate in the salivary glands."

1. Contact autoradiographs were made from freeze-dried sections of the salivary glands of
hamsters, mice and rats after injections of radio-iodide and 35S-labelled thiocyanate.
2. Selective blackening was found over the proximal ducts of the submaxillary glands and the main
ducts of the parotid glands of hamsters and mice. The pattern of blackening was similar after radio-
iodide and 35S-thiocyanate.
3. Selective blackening was not observed over sections of the salivary glands of rats after radio-
4. Radio-iodide and 35S-thiocyanate were concentrated in the saliva and submaxillary glands of
hamsters and mice, but not of rats."

Autoradiographic localization of iodine-131 in the salivary glands of the hamster.
Cohen B, Logothetopoulos JH, Myant NB
Nature. 1955 Dec 31;176(4496):1268-9.
[citation only]

Radioactive Iodine and the Salivary Glands
Mandel SJ, Mandel L
Thyroid 13(3):265-271, 2003.
[abstract only]

The salivary glands also have the capacity to concentrate iodide selectively for unknown reasons
(Fig. 1). The iodide is then secreted into saliva such that its salivary concentration has been
reported to vary from 20 to 100 times that found in the serum. It is this critical ability that causes
glandular damage when 131I is used. The principal site of the iodide transport into saliva is the
epithelium of the parotid salivary gland's intralobular ducts. Iodide is extracted from periductal
capillaries and concentrated by the ductal epithelium, whereupon it is secreted into the duct lumen
and transported into the oral cavity. It has been calculated that up to 24% of the administered 131I
dose for thyroid cancer therapy is lost in the saliva. In the process of concentrating the radioactive
iodine, the salivary glands are exposed to the damaging effects of irradiation. Although all salivary
glands are involved in the transport of the radioactive iodine into the saliva, the parotid gland is
most active and its serous cells are more susceptible than mucous acini to the deleterious effects of
ionizing radiation.

Betadine gargle and mouthwash

How does it work?

Povidone iodine is an antiseptic. It is a complex of iodine, which kills micro-organisms such as
bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa and bacterial spores. It can therefore be used to treat infections
with these micro-organisms.

Povidone iodine gargle and mouthwash is used to treat infections of the mouth and throat, such as
gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and mouth ulcers. It is also used for oral hygiene, to kill micro-
organisms before, during and after dental and oral surgery and hence prevent infections.

What is it used for?
  • Infections of the lining of the mouth and throat, such as gingivitis and mouth ulcers
  • Oral hygiene before, during and after dental and oral surgery
  • If symptoms persist for more than 14 days, seek medical or dental advice.
  • This medicine should be used to gargle or rinse the mouth for up to 30 seconds. It should not
    be swallowed.

Regular use of this medicine should be avoided, particularly in people with thyroid disorders (see
below), as prolonged use may lead to iodine being absorbed into the body. Do not use for more
than 14 days.
Not to be used in
  • Allergy to iodine
  • Children under six years of age
  • Thyroid disorders such as nodular colloidal goitre, endemic goitre or Hashimoto's thyroiditis
    (do not use regularly in these conditions)

Studies on the concentration of radioiodide and thiocyanate by slices of the salivary gland.
Fletcher K, Honour AJ, Rowlands EN
Biochem J. 1956 Jun;63(2):194-9.

  1. It has been found that slices of salivary glands of the mouse concentrate [131-I] iodide 5-10
    times from the surrounding medium.
  2. All the 131-I in the gland is present as iodide; no evidence of organic synthesis has been
  3. Concentration of [131-I] iodide is inhibited by the addition of perchlorate, thiocyanate, iodide
    and nitrate to the medium, the order of activity being perchlorate > thiocyanate = iodide >
    nitrate, as in vivo.
  4. The amount of endogenous thiocyanate in the gland and plasma is high compared with the
    amount which has to be added to the medium to inhibit the concentration of [131-I] iodide.
  5. The addition of 2:4-dinitrophenol to the medium depresses both the respiration of the slices
    and their concentration of [131-I] iodide, indicating that energy is probably necessary for the
    process of concentration.
  6. Evidence is adduced for a possible competitive-adsorption process to explain the mechanism
    of concentration.

Antagonism between perchlorate, iodide, thiocyanate, and nitrate for secretion in human saliva;
analogy with the iodide trap of the thyroid.
Edwards DA, Fletcher K, Rowlands EN
Lancet. 1954 Mar 6;266(6810):498-9.
[citation only]


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