131Iodine concentration has been described in several extra-thyroidal tissues. Recent evidence has shown that iodine uptake is achieved by the recently cloned human Na(+)/I(-) symporter (hNIS) gene. However, conflicting results were observed in the expression of hNIS transcripts in extra-thyroidal tissues. In order to document further the distribution of hNIS, we investigated its expression using an immunohistochemical method, based on a polyclonal antibody raised against a synthetic peptide. Various extra-thyroidal tissues were examined, particularly from the digestive tract. Our results confirm that the salivary glands and the stomach express hNIS protein significantly. In contrast, hNIS was undetectable in the colon but the rectal mucosa, which has never been examined, exhibited positive immunohistochemical staining. Other digestive tissues, including the oesophagus, small intestine and appendix, were negative. Weak staining was observed in the mammary gland, indicating that hNIS is expressed in this tissue. The pancreas, skin, ovaries, spleen and kidney showed no positive immunostaining.
L Vayre, JC Sabourin, B Caillou, M Ducreux, M Schlumberger and JM Bidart
S Leboulleux, E Baudin, J Young, B Caillou, V Lazar, G Pellegriti, M Ducreux, G Schaison and M Schlumberger
Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) of the thyroid gland are rare. Apart from medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), metastases of gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) NET may also occur. Features of six patients (five men, one female: age range, 39-67 years) with thyroid metastases from a GEP-NET are described. Thyroid metastases were bilateral in all patients and were associated with enlarged neck lymph nodes in five. In four cases, the thyroid tumor was either the first sign of the disease (n = 2) or was an isolated site of recurrence (n = 2). The tumors were well (n = 3) or poorly differentiated (n = 3). Five tumors for which the primary site could be determined corresponded to foregut-derived tumors (3 lungs, 1 thymus and 1 pancreatic NET). One tumor demonstrated calcitonin (CT) production as shown by immunohistochemistry and elevated plasma CT levels. However, the disease history and the clinical features strongly favored a metastasizing GEP-NET. No tumoral RET proto-oncogene mutation was found in this patient. The differential diagnosis between metastatic GEP-NET and MTC is crucial because prognosis, work-up, and treatment differ greatly.
A Ciofu, E Baudin, P Chanson, AF Cailleux, E Comoy, JC Sabourin, M Ducreux, G Schaison and M Schlumberger
OBJECTIVE: Amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation is a classical feature of gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) neuroendocrine tumors (NET). Production of catecholamines was studied in GEP NET and non-NET patients. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study was undertaken. METHODS: We studied catecholamine and metabolite secretion in 115 consecutive GEP NET patients and in 20 patients with non-NET. After specific extraction, vanilmandelic acid, homovanilic acid, catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine) and methoxylated derivates (metanephrine, normetanephrine, methoxytyramine) in urinary extracts were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography. Results were indexed to the 24-h urinary creatinine levels. RESULTS: Among the 115 patients with NET, 9 (8%) had an increase of at least one urinary catecholamine or metabolite; in 7 out of the 9 the increase was slight being less than twice the upper value of the normal range. Elevated urinary dopamine (3 patients), methoxytyramine (6 patients), norepinephrine (2 patients) and normetanephrine (2 patients) were found. No increased urinary excretion of epinephrine nor metanephrine was observed. An adrenal mass existed in one of these nine patients but metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy was negative as was immunohistochemistry for epithelial markers. None of the 20 patients with non-NET demonstrated an increased excretion of catecholamine or metabolites. No relationships were found between catecholamine and metabolite excretions and patients' tumor and treatment characteristics. CONCLUSION: Production of catecholamines and metabolites is a rare event in GEP NET patients. Histological results, including positive immunohistochemistry for epithelial markers may help to diagnose GEP NET.