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Free access

Xuguang Zhu, Dong Wook Kim, Li Zhao, Mark C Willingham, and Sheue-yann Cheng

Thyroid cancer is on the rise. Novel approaches are needed to improve the outcome of patients with recurrent and advanced metastatic thyroid cancers. FDA approval of suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA; vorinostat), an inhibitor of histone deacetylase, for the treatment of hematological malignancies led to the clinical trials of vorinostat for advanced thyroid cancer. However, patients were resistant to vorinostat treatment. To understand the molecular basis of resistance, we tested the efficacy of SAHA in two mouse models of metastatic follicular thyroid cancer: ThrbPV/PV and ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice. In both, thyroid cancer is driven by overactivation of PI3K-AKT signaling. However, the latter exhibit more aggressive cancer progression due to haplodeficiency of the tumor suppressor, the Pten gene. SAHA had no effects on thyroid cancer progression in ThrbPV/PV mice, indicative of resistance to SAHA. Unexpectedly, thyroid cancer progressed in SAHA-treated ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice with accelerated occurrence of vascular invasion, anaplastic foci, and lung metastasis. Molecular analyses showed further activated PI3K-AKT in thyroid tumors of SAHA-treated ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice, resulting in the activated effectors, p-Rb, CDK6, p21Cip1, p-cSrc, ezrin, and matrix metalloproteinases, to increase proliferation and invasion of tumor cells. Single-molecule DNA analysis indicated that the wild-type allele of the Pten gene was progressively lost, whereas carcinogenesis progressed in SAHA-treated ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice. Thus, this study has uncovered a novel mechanism by which SAHA-induced loss of the tumor suppressor Pten gene to promote thyroid cancer progression. Effectors downstream of the Pten loss-induced signaling may be potential targets to overcome resistance of thyroid cancer to SAHA.

Free access

Sonja Balthasar, Nina Bergelin, Christoffer Löf, Minna Vainio, Sture Andersson, and Kid Törnquist

Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) induces migration of human ML-1 thyroid follicular cancer cells and inhibits migration of human FRO anaplastic thyroid cancer cells. As tumour cells often secrete vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), we investigated a possible interaction between S1P and VEGF signalling in the regulation of thyroid tumour cell migration. We found that both ML-1 and FRO cells secreted VEGF-A (∼3.6 and <0.1 ng/106 cells/day respectively) and VEGF-C (∼3.0 and 0.14 ng/106 cells/day respectively). S1P stimulated VEGF-A secretion in both cell lines, and blocking S1P receptors 1, 2 and 3 attenuated the S1P-evoked secretion of VEGF-A. Neither TSH nor insulin affected the amount of secreted VEGF-A or -C in ML-1 cells, while simultaneous stimulation with insulin and S1P increased VEGF-C secretion in FRO cells. Both cell lines expressed VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) mRNA and proteins. Serum-evoked migration of both ML-1 and FRO cells was attenuated when VEGFR-2 was inhibited. Moreover, inhibiting VEGFR-2 in ML-1 cells resulted in a rapid downregulation of S1P1 mRNA expression and S1P1 protein levels, suppression of S1P-induced migration and a decrease in S1P-induced Akt phosphorylation. A VEGF-neutralizing antibody also reduced S1P-induced migration. In ML-1 cells, S1P phosphorylated VEGFR-2. In addition, VEGFR-2 inhibition resulted in the upregulation of S1P3 mRNA within 24 h, but a significant increase in S1P3 protein levels was not observed. VEGFR-2 inhibition, but not a VEGF-neutralizing antibody, reduced ML-1 cell proliferation independently of S1P stimulation. The results indicate a complex interaction between S1P and VEGFR-2 in ML-1 cells, particularly in regulating migratory responses.

Free access

Sunmi Park, Mark C Willingham, Jun Qi, and Sheue-Yann Cheng

Compelling epidemiological evidence shows a strong positive correlation of obesity with thyroid cancer. In vivo studies have provided molecular evidence that high-fat-diet-induced obesity promotes thyroid cancer progression by aberrantly activating leptin-JAK2-STAT3 signaling in a mouse model of thyroid cancer (Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice). The Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mouse expresses a dominantly negative thyroid hormone receptor β (denoted as PV) and a deletion of one single allele of the Pten gene. The Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mouse spontaneously develops follicular thyroid cancer, which allows its use as a preclinical mouse model to test potential therapeutics. We recently showed that inhibition of STAT3 activity by a specific inhibitor markedly delays thyroid cancer progression in high-fat-diet-induced obese Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice (HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice). Further, metformin, a widely used antidiabetic drug, blocks invasion and metastasis, but not thyroid tumor growth in HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice. To improve efficacy in reducing thyroid tumor growth, we treated HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ with JQ1, a potent inhibitor of the activity of bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) and with metformin. We found that the combined treatment synergistically suppressed thyroid tumor growth by attenuating STAT3 and ERK signaling, resulting in decreased anti-apoptotic key regulators such as Mcl-1, Bcl-2 and survivin and increased pro-apoptotic regulators such as Bim, BAD and cleave caspase 3. Furthermore, combined treatment of JQ1 and metformin reduced cMyc protein levels to suppress vascular invasion, anaplasia and lung metastasis. These findings indicate that combined treatment is more effective than metformin alone and suggest a novel treatment modality for obesity-activated thyroid cancer.

Free access

Dara O Kavanagh, Marie McIlroy, Eddie Myers, Fiona Bane, Thomas B Crotty, E McDermott, Arnold D Hill, and Leonie S Young

Epidemiological, clinical, and molecular studies suggest a role for oestrogen in thyroid cancer. How oestrogen mediates its effects and the consequence of it on clinical outcome has not been fully elucidated. The participation of coregulatory proteins in modulating oestrogen receptor (ER) function and input of crosstalk with the tyrosine kinase receptor HER2 was investigated. Oestrogen induced cell proliferation in the follicular thyroid cancer (FTC)-133 cells, but not in the anaplastic 8305C cell line. Knockdown of the coactivator steroid receptor coactivator (SRC)-1 inhibited FTC-133 basal, but not oestrogen induced, cell proliferation. Oestrogen also increased protein expression of SRC-1 and the ER target gene cyclin D1 in the FTC-133 cell line. ERα, ERβ, the coregulatory proteins SRC-1 and nuclear corepressor (NCoR), and the tyrosine kinase receptor HER2 were localised by immunohistochemistry and immnofluorescence in paraffin-embedded tissue from thyroid tumour patients (n=111). ERα was colocalised with both SRC-1 and NCoR to the nuclei of the tumour epithelial cells. Expression of ERα and NCoR was found predominantly in non-anaplastic tumours and was significantly associated with well-differentiated tumours and reduced incidence of disease recurrence. In non-anaplastic tumours, HER2 was significantly associated with SRC-1, and these proteins were associated with poorly differentiated tumours, capsular invasion and disease recurrence. Totally, 87% of anaplastic tumours were positive for SRC-1. Kaplan–Meier estimates of disease-free survival indicated that in thyroid cancer, SRC-1 strongly correlates with reduced disease-free survival (P<0.001), whereas NCoR predicted increased survival (P<0.001). These data suggest opposing roles for the coregulators SRC-1 and NCoR in thyroid tumour progression.

Open access

Ying Ni, Spencer Seballos, Shireen Ganapathi, Danielle Gurin, Benjamin Fletcher, Joanne Ngeow, Rebecca Nagy, Richard T Kloos, Matthew D Ringel, Thomas LaFramboise, and Charis Eng

Along with breast and endometrial cancers, thyroid cancer is a major component cancer in Cowden syndrome (CS). Germline variants in SDHB/C/D (SDHx) genes account for subsets of CS/CS-like cases, conferring a higher risk of breast and thyroid cancers over those with only germline PTEN mutations. To investigate whether SDHx alterations at both germline and somatic levels occur in apparently sporadic breast cancer and differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), we analyzed SDHx genes in the following four groups: i) 48 individuals with sporadic invasive breast adenocarcinoma for germline mutation; ii) 48 (expanded to 241) DTC for germline mutation; iii) 37 pairs DTC tumor-normal tissues for germline and somatic mutation and mRNA expression levels; and iv) data from 476 patients in the Cancer Genome Atlas thyroid carcinoma dataset for validation. No germline SDHx variant was found in a pilot series of 48 breast cancer cases. As germline SDHx variants were found in our pilot of 48 thyroid cancer cases, we expanded to three series of DTC comprising a total 754 cases, and found 48 (6%) with germline SDHx variants (P<0.001 compared with 0/350 controls). In 513 tumors, we found 27 (5%) with large somatic duplications within chromosome 1 encompassing SDHC. Both papillary and follicular thyroid tumors showed consistent loss of SDHC/D gene expression (P<0.001), which is associated with earlier disease onset and higher pathological-TNM stage. Therefore, we conclude that both germline and somatic SDHx mutations/variants occur in sporadic DTC but are very rare in sporadic breast cancer, and overall loss of SDHx gene expression is a signature of DTC.

Free access

Kirk Jensen, Athanasios Bikas, Aneeta Patel, Yevgeniya Kushchayeva, John Costello, Dennis McDaniel, Kenneth Burman, and Vasyl Vasko

The HIV protease inhibitor Nelfinavir (NFV) inhibits PI3K/AKT and MAPK/ERK signaling pathways, emerging targets in thyroid cancers. We examined the effects of NFV on cancer cells that derived from follicular (FTC), papillary (PTC) and anaplastic (ATC) thyroid cancers. NFV (1–20 µM) was tested in FTC133, BCPAP and SW1736 cell lines. The effects of NFV on cell proliferation were determined in vitro using real-time microscopy and by flow cytometry. DNA damage, apoptotic cell death and expression of molecular markers of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) were determined by Western blot and real-time PCR. Real-time imaging demonstrated that NFV (10 µM) increased the time required for the cell passage through the phases of cell cycle and induced DNA fragmentation. Growth inhibitory effects of NFV were associated with the accumulation of cells in G0/G1 phase, downregulation of cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4). NFV also induced the expression of γH2AX and p53BP1 indicating DNA damage. Treatment with NFV (20 µM) resulted in caspase-3 cleavage in all examined cells. NFV (20 µM) decreased the levels of total and p-AKT in PTEN-deficient FTC133 cells. NFV had no significant effects on total ERK and p-ERK in BRAF-positive BCPAP and SW1736 cells. NFV had no effects on the expression of EMT markers (Twist, Vimentin, E- and N-Cadherin), but inhibited the migration and decreased the abilities of thyroid cancer cells to survive in non-adherent conditions. We conclude that NFV inhibits proliferation and induces DNA damage in thyroid cancer cell lines. Our in vitro data suggest that NFV has a potential to become a new thyroid cancer therapeutic agent.

Free access

Maria Rosaria Sapio, Anna Guerra, Daniela Posca, Paolo Piero Limone, Maurilio Deandrea, Manuela Motta, Giancarlo Troncone, Alessia Caleo, Pasquale Vallefuoco, Guido Rossi, Gianfranco Fenzi, and Mario Vitale

Ten to fifteen percent of fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) of thyroid nodules are indeterminate. Galectin-3 (Gal-3) and the oncogene BRAF V600E are markers of malignancy useful to improve FNAB accuracy. The objective of this study was to determine whether the combined analysis of Gal-3 and BRAF V600E expression in thyroid aspirates could improve the diagnosis in FNAB with suspicious cytological findings. Two hundred and sixty-one surgical thyroid tissues and one hundred and forty-four thyroid aspirates were analyzed for the presence of the two markers. In surgical specimens, Gal-3 expression was present in 27.4% benign nodules, 91.9% papillary (PTC) and 75% follicular (FTC) thyroid carcinomas. BRAF V600E was not detected in 127 benign nodules, as well as in 32 FTCs, while was found in 42.9% PTC. No correlation was found between BRAF mutation and Gal-3 expression. Forty-seven consecutive FNAB suspicious for PTC were analyzed for the presence of the two markers. Of these nodules, 23 were benign at histology, 6 were positive for Gal-3, none displayed BRAF V600E, and 17 were negative for both the markers. Twenty suspicious nodules were diagnosed as PTC and four FTCs at histology. Of these 24 carcinomas, 9 resulted positive for BRAF V600E, 17 for Gal-3, and 22 for one or both the markers. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for the presence of Gal-3 and/or BRAFV600E were significantly higher than those obtained for the two markers alone. Notably, the negative predictive value increased from 70.8 to 89.5%. In conclusion, the combined detection of Gal-3 and BRAF V600E improves the diagnosis in FNAB with cytological findings suspicious for PTC and finds clinical application in selected cases.

Free access

Hai-Yan Zhang, Hua-Qin Wang, Hai-Mei Liu, Yifu Guan, and Zhen-Xian Du

DJ-1, a cancer-associated protein protects cells from multiple toxic stresses. The expression of DJ-1 and its influence on thyroid cancer cell death has not been investigated so far. We analyzed DJ-1 expression in human thyroid carcinoma cell lines and the effect of DJ-1 on tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis. DJ-1 was expressed in human thyroid carcinoma cell lines; small interfering RNA-mediated downregulation of its levels significantly sensitized thyroid carcinoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, whereas the forced exogenous expression of DJ-1 significantly suppressed cell death induced by TRAIL. We also report here that TRAIL-induced thyroid cancer cell apoptosis is mediated by oxidative stress and that DJ-1, a potent nutritional antioxidant, protects cancer cells from apoptosis at least in part by impeding the elevation of reactive oxygen species levels induced by TRAIL and impairing caspase-8 activation. Subsequently, we investigated DJ-1 expression in 52 normal and 74 primary thyroid carcinomas from patients of China Medical University. The protein was not detectable in the 52 specimens of normal thyroid, while 70 out of 74 analyzed carcinomas (33 out of 33 follicular, 17 out of 19 papillary, 12 out of 13 medullar, and 8 out of 9 anaplastic) were clearly positive for DJ-1 expression. Our data demonstrated that DJ-1 is specifically expressed in thyroid carcinomas and not in the normal thyroid tissue. In addition, the protein modulates the response to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in human neoplastic thyroid cells, at least partially through its antioxidant property.

Free access

Rengyun Liu and Mingzhao Xing

The 2013 discovery of Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations chr5, 1,295,228 C>T (C228T) and 1,295,250 C>T (C250T) in thyroid cancer represents an important event in the thyroid cancer field and much progress has occurred since then. This article provides a comprehensive review of this exciting new thyroid cancer field. The oncogenic role of TERT promoter mutations involves their creation of consensus binding sites for E-twenty-six transcriptional factors. TERT C228T is far more common than TERT C250T and their collective prevalence is, on average, 0, 11.3, 17.1, 43.2 and 40.1% in benign thyroid tumors, papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), follicular thyroid cancer, poorly differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer, respectively, displaying an association with aggressive types of thyroid cancer. TERT promoter mutations are associated with aggressive thyroid tumor characteristics, tumor recurrence and patient mortality as well as BRAF V600E mutation. Coexisting BRAF V600E and TERT promoter mutations have a robust synergistic impact on the aggressiveness of PTC, including a sharply increased tumor recurrence and patient mortality, while either mutation alone has a modest impact. Thus, TERT with promoter mutations represents a prominent new oncogene in thyroid cancer and the mutations are promising new diagnostic and prognostic genetic markers for thyroid cancer, which, in combination with BRAF V600E mutation or other genetic markers (e.g. RAS mutations), are proving to be clinically useful for the management of thyroid cancer. Future studies will specifically define such clinical utilities, elucidate the biological mechanisms and explore the potential as therapeutic targets of TERT promoter mutations in thyroid cancer.

Free access

J L Reverter, S Holgado, N Alonso, I Salinas, M L Granada, and A Sanmartí

The effect of subclinical hyperthyroidism on bone mineral density is controversial and could be significant in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma who receive suppressive doses of levothyroxine (LT4). To ascertain whether prolonged treatment with LT4 to suppress thyrotropin had a deleterious effect on bone mineral density and/or calcium metabolism in patients thyroidectomized for differentiated thyroid cancer we have performed a cross-sectional study in a group of 88 women (mean ± SD age: 51 ± 12 years) treated with LT4 after near-total thyroidectomy and in a control group of 88 healthy women (51 ± 11 years) matched for body mass index and menopausal status. We determined calcium metabolism parameters, bone turnover marker N-telopeptide and bone mass density by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. No differences were found between patients and controls in calcium metabolism parameters or N-telopeptide except for PTH, which was significantly increased in controls. No differences were found between groups in bone mineral density in femoral neck (0.971 ± 0.148 gr/cm2 vs 0.956 ± 0.130 gr/cm2 in patients and controls respectively, P = 0.5). In lumbar spine, bone mineral density values were lower in controls than in patients (1.058 ± 0.329 gr/cm2 vs 1.155 ± 0.224 gr/cm2 respectively, P<0.05). When premenopausal (n = 44) and postmenopausal (n = 44) patients were compared with their respective controls, bone mineral density was similar both in femoral neck and lumbar spine. The proportion of women with normal bone mass density, osteopenia and osteoporosis in patient and control groups was similar in pre- and postmenopausal women. In conclusion, long-term suppressive LT4 treatment does not appear to affect skeletal integrity in women with differentiated thyroid carcinoma.