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Vera Tiedje, Saskia Ting, Robert Fred Walter, Thomas Herold, Karl Worm, Julia Badziong, Denise Zwanziger, Kurt Werner Schmid and Dagmar Führer

Objective

Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) occurs sporadically in 75% of patients. Metastatic disease is associated with significantly poorer survival. The aim of this study was to identify prognostic markers for progressive MTC and oncogenic factors associated with response to vandetanib therapy.

Design and methods

Clinical courses of 32 patients with sporadic MTC (n=10 pN0cM0, n=8 pN1cM0, n=14 pN1cM1) were compared with genetic profiles of the patients’ primary tumour tissue. Analysis for RET proto-oncogene mutations was performed by Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing (NGS). The mRNA expression (mRNA count) of 33 targets was measured by nCounter NanoString analysis.

Results

Somatic RET mutations occurred in 21/32 patients. The RET918 mutation was found in 8/14 pN1cM1 patients. BRAF (P=0.019), FGFR2 (P=0.007), FGFR3 (P=0.044) and VEGFC (P=0.042) mRNA expression was significantly lower in pN1cM0/pN1cM1 compared with pN0cM0 patients, whereas PDGFRA (P=0.026) mRNA expression was significantly higher in pN1cM0/pN1cM1 when compared with pN0cM0 patients. Among the 10/32 vandetanib-treated patients, 5 showed partial response (PR), all harbouring the RET918 mutation. mRNA expression of FLT1 (P=0.039), FLT4 (P=0.025) and VEGFB (P=0.042) was significantly higher in therapy responders.

Conclusions

In this study, we identified molecular markers in primary tumour tissue of sporadic MTC associated with the development of metastasis (both lymph node and organ metastasis) as well as response to vandetanib therapy.

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Kerstin Krause, Stefan Karger, Oliver Gimm, Sien-Yi Sheu, Henning Dralle, Andrea Tannapfel, Kurt Werner Schmid, Corinne Dupuy and Dagmar Fuhrer

Iodotyrosine dehalogenase 1 (DEHAL1) is a transmembrane protein involved in the recycling of iodide in the human thyroid. The aim of the present study was (I) to investigate whether DEHAL1 expression is different in differentially functioning thyroid pathologies and (II) to evaluate DEHAL1 as a possible marker of thyroid cell differentiation.

Design and methods: Real-time PCR for DEHAL1 and its isoform DEHAL1B was performed in a series of 105 thyroid specimens, including toxic thyroid nodules (TTN), Graves’ disease (GD) thyroids, benign cold thyroid nodules (CTN), normal thyroid tissues and thyroid cancers (follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTC), papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), partially differentiated thyroid cancers (PDTC) and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas (ATC)). In addition, DEHAL1 protein expression was studied by immunohistochemistry in 163 benign and malignant thyroid pathologies and normal thyroids.

Results: (I) The highest DEHAL1 mRNA levels were found in GD thyroids, while downregulation of DEHAL1 and DEHAL1B mRNA occurred in PTC and ATC (P<0.001 and <0.05 respectively); (II) DEHAL1 protein was overexpressed in TTNs and GD thyroids with predominant apical staining in all samples; (III) a weaker and patchy staining pattern was found in CTNs and normal thyroids; (IV) in differentiated thyroid cancers (FTC and PTC), a diffuse cytoplasmic DEHAL1 expression was found; and (V) in PDTC and ATC, DEHAL1 expression was faint or absent.

Conclusion: Upregulation of DEHAL1 protein expression and sublocalisation of DEHAL1 at the apical cell pole in TTNs and GD thyroids is consistent with increased thyroid hormone turnover during thyrotoxicosis. Diffuse cytoplasmatic localisation or downregulation of DEHAL1 expression in thyroid cancers suggests alteration or loss of DEHAL1 function during thyroid cell dedifferentiation.

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Julia Badziong, Saskia Ting, Sarah Synoracki, Vera Tiedje, Klaudia Brix, Georg Brabant, Lars Christian Moeller, Kurt Werner Schmid, Dagmar Fuhrer and Denise Zwanziger

Objective

Thyroid hormone (TH) transporters are expressed in thyrocytes and most play a role in TH release. We asked whether expression of the monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8) and the L-type amino acid transporters LAT2 and LAT4 is changed with thyrocyte dedifferentiation and in hyperfunctioning thyroid tissues.

Design and methods

Protein expression and localization of transporters was determined by immunohistochemistry in human thyroid specimen including normal thyroid tissue (NT, n = 19), follicular adenoma (FA, n = 44), follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC, n = 45), papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC, n = 40), anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC, n = 40) and Graves’ disease (GD, n = 50) by calculating the ‘hybrid’ (H) score. Regulation of transporter expression was investigated in the rat follicular thyroid cell line PCCL3 under basal and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) conditions.

Results

MCT8 and LAT4 were localized at the plasma membrane, while LAT2 transporter showed cytoplasmic localization. MCT8 expression was downregulated in benign and malignant thyroid tumours as compared to NT. In contrast, significant upregulation of MCT8, LAT2 and LAT4 was found in GD. Furthermore, a stronger expression of MCT8 was demonstrated in PCCL3 cells after TSH stimulation.

Conclusions

Downregulation of MCT8 in thyroid cancers qualifies MCT8 as a marker of thyroid differentiation. The more variable expression of LATs in distinct thyroid malignancies may be linked with other transporter properties relevant to altered metabolism in cancer cells, i.e. amino acid transport. Consistent upregulation of MCT8 in GD is in line with increased TH release in hyperthyroidism, an assumption supported by our in vitro results showing TSH-dependent upregulation of MCT8.

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Jan Alexander Krämer, Kurt Werner Schmid, Henning Dralle, Markus Dietlein, Harald Schicha, Hartmut Lerch, Joachim Gerss, Thomas Frankewitsch, Otmar Schober and Burkhard Riemann

Objective

The Multicentre Study Differentiated Thyroid Cancer (MSDS) collective represents a well-defined group of patients with thyroid carcinomas with extrathyroidal extension. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship of the primary tumour size with clinicopathological features as well as the outcome of patients with minimum and extensive extrathyroidal growth (pT3b- and pT4a-tumours; UICC 2002/2003, 6th ed).

Methods

The tumour diameter was available in 324 out of 351 MSDS patients (244 females, 80 males). Mean age of patients was 47.7±12.0 years (range, 20.1–69.8 years), and the median follow-up was 6.2 years. The relationship between primary tumour size and the following clinicopathological data was investigated: age, gender, histological tumour type (papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC) versus follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTC)) and UICC/AJCC TNM classification. In addition, the correlation between primary tumour size and event-free and overall survival was assessed.

Results

The FTC of our series were significantly larger than PTC (3.46 vs 1.84 cm; P<0.001). Patients suffering from pT3b-tumours presented with significantly smaller tumour size than those with extensive extrathyroidal growth (pT4a-tumours) (1.9 vs 3.0 cm; P<0.01). All patients with distant metastases suffered from tumours >2 cm. Furthermore, event-free and overall survival were significantly correlated with increasing tumour size (P<0.05). Using multivariate analysis, a pT4a-category and a tumour diameter >2 cm remained independent predictors of survival.

Conclusions

In patients suffering from differentiated thyroid carcinoma with extrathyroidal growth (pT3b and pT4a), the tumour size is an independent predictor of event-free and overall survival.