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Arivarasan Karunamurthy, Federica Panebianco, Susan J Hsiao, Jennie Vorhauer, Marina N Nikiforova, Simion Chiosea, and Yuri E Nikiforov


The EIF1AX gene mutations have been recently found in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) and anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC). The prevalence of these mutations in other types of thyroid cancers and benign nodules is unknown. In this study, we analyzed the occurrence of EIF1AX mutations in exons 2, 5, and 6 of the gene in a series of 266 thyroid tumors and hyperplastic nodules by either Sanger or next-generation sequencing (ThyroSeq v.2). In addition, 647 thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) samples with indeterminate cytology were analyzed. Using surgically removed samples, EIF1AX mutations were detected in 3/86 (2.3%) PTC, 1/4 (25%) ATC, 0/53 follicular carcinomas, 0/12 medullary carcinomas, 2/27 (7.4%) follicular adenomas, and 1/80 (1.3%) hyperplastic nodules. Among five mutation-positive FNA samples with surgical follow-up, one nodule was PTC and others were benign follicular adenomas or hyperplastic nodules. Overall, among 33 mutations identified, A113_splice mutation at the intron 5/exon 6 splice site of EIF1AX was the most common. All four carcinomas harbored A113_splice mutation and three of them had one or more coexisting mutations, typically RAS. All PTC carrying EIF1AX mutations were encapsulated follicular variants. In summary, this study shows that EIF1AX mutations occur not only in thyroid carcinomas, but also in benign nodules. The most common mutation hotspot is the A113_splice, followed by a cluster of mutations in exon 2. When found in thyroid FNA samples, EIF1AX mutations confer ~20% risk of cancer; the risk is likely to be higher in nodules carrying a A113_splice mutation and when EIF1AX coexists with RAS mutations.

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Sandra Lassalle, Véronique Hofman, Marius Ilie, Christelle Bonnetaud, Marie-Pierre Puisségur, Patrick Brest, Céline Loubatier, Nicolas Guevara, Olivier Bordone, Bruno Cardinaud, Kévin Lebrigand, Géraldine Rios, Joseph Santini, Brigitte Franc, Bernard Mari, Abir Al Ghuzlan, Philippe Vielh, Pascal Barbry, and Paul Hofman

The term ‘thyroid tumors of uncertain malignant potential’ (TT-UMP) was coined by surgical pathologists to define well-differentiated tumors (WDT) showing inconclusive morphological evidence of malignancy or benignity. We have analyzed the expression of microRNA (miRNA) in a training set of 42 WDT of different histological subtypes: seven follicular tumors of UMP (FT-UMP), six WDT-UMP, seven follicular thyroid adenomas (FTA), 11 conventional papillary thyroid carcinomas (C-PTC), five follicular variants of PTC (FV-PTC), and six follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTC), which led to the identification of about 40 deregulated miRNAs. A subset of these altered miRNAs was independently validated by qRT-PCR, which included 18 supplementary TT-UMP (eight WDT-UMP and ten FT-UMP). Supervised clustering techniques were used to predict the first 42 samples. Based on the four possible outcomes (FTA, C-PTC, FV-PTC, and FTC), about 80% of FTA and C-PTC and 50% of FV-PTC and FTC samples were correctly assigned. Analysis of the independent set of 18 WDT-UMP by quantitative RT-PCR for the selection of the six most discriminating miRNAs was unable to separate FT-UMP from WDT-UMP, suggesting that the miRNA signature is insufficient in characterizing these two clinical entities. We conclude that considering FT-UMP and WDT-UMP as distinct and specific clinical entities may improve the diagnosis of WDT of the thyroid gland. In this context, a small set of miRNAs (i.e. miR-7, miR-146a, miR-146b, miR-200b, miR-221, and miR-222) appears to be useful, though not sufficient per se, in distinguishing TT-UMP from other WDT of the thyroid gland.

Free access

Amandine Berdelou, Livia Lamartina, Michele Klain, Sophie Leboulleux, Martin Schlumberger, and on behalf of the TUTHTYREF Network

Distant metastases from thyroid cancer of follicular origin are uncommon. Treatment includes levothyroxine administration, focal treatment modalities with surgery, external radiation therapy and thermal ablation, and radioiodine in patients with uptake of 131I in their metastases. Two-thirds of distant metastases become refractory to radioiodine at some point, and when there is a significant tumor burden and documented progression on imaging, a treatment with a kinase inhibitor may provide benefits.

Free access

Arja Jukkola, Risto Bloigu, Tapani Ebeling, Pasi Salmela, and Guillermo Blanco

Differentiated thyroid carcinomas (DTC) (papillary, follicular and follicular type of papillary) have a favourable prognosis, but a proportion of patients develop recurrences and eventually die of the disease. Various prognostic factors have been identified and been used to create the current staging classifications (AGES, AMES, MACIS, EORTC, UICC-TNM). We examined 499 DTC patients retrospectively to validate known prognostic factors that enable them to be recognised as having either a low or a high risk of death related to a recurrence of DTC, by reference to the current staging classifications. Sixty-nine of them (14%) had local or distant recurrences, the mean time to recurrence being 7.7 years. The 10-year disease-free survival rate was 80%, and the ten-year overall survival rate for the entire group was 91%, with a mean survival time of 8.7 years. Male gender, a follicular type of tumour, larger tumour size, extrathyroidal invasion outside the capsule and nodal metastases were all related to a higher incidence of tumour recurrence, and the follicular type of histology, age >45 years, larger tumour size and local invasion entailed poorer survival. The AMES and to some extent the EORTC classification were not reproducible in this material, mainly because some prognostic variants were no longer encountered or were insufficient in number to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn. The MACIS staging classification leaves the definition of the intermediate and high risk groups too wide and is therefore not very reliable. Pooling of stages I and II improved the relevance of the TNM classification. All the current staging classifications are able to discern a low risk DTC group well. We achieved a highly accurate definition of risk in the present material using only two parameters, age (cut-off value 50 years) and extracapsular invasion of the thyroid gland.

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Soomin Ahn, Tae Hyuk Kim, Sun Wook Kim, Chang Seok Ki, Hye Won Jang, Jee Soo Kim, Jung Han Kim, Jun-Ho Choe, Jung Hee Shin, Soo Yeon Hahn, Young Lyun Oh, and Jae Hoon Chung

PD-L1 expression is being considered a potential biomarker for response of anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 agents in various tumors. The reported frequency of PD-L1 positivity varies in thyroid carcinomas, and multiple factors may contribute to the variability in PD-L1 positivity. We evaluated the PD-L1 expression in various thyroid cancers on a large scale. A total of 407 primary thyroid cancers with a median 13.7-year of follow-up were included. We evaluated the frequency of PD-L1 expression using a rabbit monoclonal antibody (clone SP142). In addition, we analyzed the relationships between PD-L1 expression and clinicopathologic factors, including TERT promoter, BRAF status and disease progression. Tumoral PD-L1 was expressed in 6.1% of papillary thyroid carcinomas, 7.6% of follicular thyroid carcinomas and 22.2% of anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. The distribution of PD-L1 positivity was different according to cancer histology types (P < 0.001). All PD-L1-positive cases of follicular thyroid carcinoma and anaplastic thyroid carcinoma showed strong intensity. The proportions of positivity in PD-L1 positive anaplastic thyroid carcinomas were more than 80%. PD-L1 in immune cells was positive in 28.5% of papillary thyroid carcinoma, 9.1% of follicular thyroid carcinomas and 11.1% of anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. There was no significant association between clinicopathologic variables, disease progression, oncogenic mutation and PD-L1 expression. PD-L1 was highly expressed in a subset of patients with advanced thyroid cancer, such as follicular and anaplastic thyroid carcinoma. Identification of PD-L1 expression may have direct therapeutic relevance to patients with refractory thyroid cancer.

Free access

Denise Zwanziger, Julia Badziong, Saskia Ting, Lars Christian Moeller, Kurt Werner Schmid, Udo Siebolts, Claudia Wickenhauser, Henning Dralle, and Dagmar Fuehrer

CLAUDIN-1 belongs to the family of transmembrane tight junction proteins tightening the paracellular cleft of epithelial cells. In human malignancies, CLAUDIN-1 is often dysregulated and located in subcellular compartments, particularly in the nucleus where it may influence cellular behaviour. Here, we studied CLAUDIN-1 in relation to the biological characteristics of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC). CLAUDIN-1 immuno-staining showed loss of membrane expression and increased nuclear CLAUDIN-1 localization in FTC metastases. CLAUDIN-1 function was further investigated in two different follicular thyroid carcinoma cell lines: FTC-133 isolated from a regional lymph node metastasis and FTC-238 derived from a lung metastasis. In both cell lines CLAUDIN-1 expression was demonstrated in the cell nuclei with a significantly higher protein expression in FTC-238 compared to FTC-133 cells. Interestingly, in vitro scratch assay revealed enriched nuclear CLAUDIN-1 expression near the scratch. Furthermore, the increase of the pathogenic character of FTC-133 cells by RASV12 transfection was associated with elevated CLAUDIN-1 expression and enhanced cell migration, invasion and proliferation. Likewise over-expression of nuclear CLAUDIN-1 in FTC-133 cells resulted in increased cell migration and invasion. Conversely, CLAUDIN-1 downregulation in FTC-238 cells by siRNA resulted in decreased cell migration and invasion and was accompanied by reduced phosphoPKC expression. Moreover, activation and inhibition of PKC resulted in CLAUDIN-1 up- and downregulation in FTC cells respectively. These data suggest an impact of CLAUDIN-1 on follicular thyroid carcinoma aggressiveness, which could potentially be influenced by PKC activity.

Free access

Isabel Amendoeira, Tiago Maia, and Manuel Sobrinho-Simões

The 2017 edition of the WHO book on Classification of Tumours of Endocrine Organs includes a new section entitled ‘Other encapsulated follicular-patterned thyroid tumours’, in which the newly created NIFTP (non-invasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features) is identified and described in detail. Despite deleting the word ‘carcinoma’ from its name, NIFTP is not a benign tumor either and is best regarded as a neoplasm with ‘very low malignant potential’. The main goal of the introduction of NIFTP category is to prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Sampling constraints, especially when dealing with heterogeneous and/or large nodules, and difficulties in the invasiveness evaluation, are the major weaknesses of the histological characterization of NIFTP. At the cytological level, NIFTP can be separated from classic papillary carcinoma (cPTC) but not from encapsulated, invasive follicular variant PTC. The impact of NIFTP individualization for cytopathology is the drop of rates of malignancy for each Bethesda category in general and for indeterminate categories in particular. The biggest impact will be seen in institutions with a high frequency of FVPTC. The introduction of NIFTP has changed the utility of predictive values of molecular tests because RAS mutations and PAX8-PPARg rearrangements are frequently detected in NIFTP. This turns less promising the application of mutation detection panels as indicators of malignancy and will probably contribute to switch to a rule-out approach of molecular testing. Selection for surgery will go on being determined by a combined detection of clinical, cytological and ultrasound suspicious features.

Free access

Shu-Fu Lin, Jen-Der Lin, Chuen Hsueh, Ting-Chao Chou, and Richard J Wong

Activation of cyclin-dependent kinase activity is frequently observed in many human cancers; therefore, cyclin-dependent kinases that promote cell cycle transition and cell proliferation may be potential targets in the treatment of malignancy. The therapeutic effects of roniciclib, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor for papillary and follicular thyroid cancer (designated as well-differentiated thyroid cancer), were investigated in this study. Roniciclib inhibited cell proliferation in two papillary and two follicular thyroid cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. Roniciclib activated caspase-3 activity and induced apoptosis. Cell cycle progression was arrested in the G2/M phase. Roniciclib treatment in vivo retarded the growth of two well-differentiated thyroid tumors in xenograft models in a dose-dependent fashion. Furthermore, the combination of roniciclib with sorafenib was more effective than either single treatment in a follicular thyroid cancer xenograft model. Acceptable safety profiles appeared in animals treated with either roniciclib alone or roniciclib and sorafenib combination therapy. These findings support roniciclib as a potential drug for the treatment of patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer.

Free access

D Führer, A Tannapfel, O Sabri, P Lamesch, and R Paschke

In a 59-year-old patient, thyroid follicular cancer was diagnosed in two right-sided toxic thyroid nodules, which had presented clinically as unilateral thyroid autonomy. In addition, the patient had histologically proven lung metastases of thyroid cancer; however, these failed to exhibit iodine uptake and were resistant to radioiodine treatment. The functional activity of the thyroid nodules prompted us to screen for TSH receptor (TSHR) mutations, and the histological diagnosis of follicular carcinoma led us to search for the PAX8-PPARgamma1 rearrangement and mutations in the ras genes. Each thyroid nodule harboured a different TSHR mutation (large nodule, Asp633Tyr; small nodule, Phe631Ile). Presence of both mutations in one sample suggestive of local invasion of a thyroid carcinoma could not be demonstrated, although several specimens from different nodule locations were screened. Only the wild-type TSHR sequence was identified in the histologically normal left thyroid lobe, and no genetic alterations were found in the other investigated genes. No TSHR mutations were detected in the pulmonary metastases. This is the first case report of a patient with toxic follicular thyroid carcinoma harbouring two different TSHR mutations and presenting with non-functional lung metastases.

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M Niedziela

According to the literature thyroid nodules are quite rare in the first two decades of life. However, there are some exceptions, relating to areas with an iodine deficiency or affected by radioactive fallout, where the risk of nodules and carcinomas is increased. Therefore, it is a great challenge for the physician to distinguish between benign and malignant lesions preoperatively, and not only in these areas of greater risk. A careful work-up, comprising the patient’s history, clinical examination, laboratory tests, thyroid ultrasound, scintigraphy, fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) and molecular studies, is mandatory to improve the preoperative diagnosis. The differential diagnosis should also include benign thyroid conditions such as: (i) congenital hypothyroidism due to dyshormonogenesis or ectopy, (ii) thyroid hemiagenesis, (iii) thyroglossal duct cyst, (iv) simple goiter, (v) cystic lesion, (vi) nodular hyperplasia, (vii) follicular adenoma, (viii) Graves’ disease and (ix) Hashimoto thyroiditis, all of which can predispose to the development of thyroid nodules. The majority of thyroid carcinomas derive from the follicular cell (papillary, follicular, insular and undifferentiated (or anaplastic) thyroid carcinoma), whereas medullary thyroid carcinoma derives from calcitonin-producing cells. Inherited forms of thyroid cancer may occur, especially in relation to medullary thyroid carcinoma. FNAB is a critical factor in establishing the preoperative diagnosis. However, we should keep in mind the fact that a conventional cytological evaluation can miss the neoplastic nature of a lesion and the employment of immunocytochemical and molecular studies of aspirates from FNAB can give us a more precise diagnosis of neoplasia in thyroid nodules once they are detected.