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M Xing

Genetic alteration is the driving force for thyroid tumorigenesis and progression, based upon which novel approaches to the management of thyroid cancer can be developed. A recent important genetic finding in thyroid cancer is the oncogenic T1799A transversion mutation of BRAF (the gene for the B-type Raf kinase, BRAF). Since the initial report of this mutation in thyroid cancer 2 years ago, rapid advancements have been made. BRAF mutation is the most common genetic alteration in thyroid cancer, occurring in about 45% of sporadic papillary thyroid cancers (PTCs), particularly in the relatively aggressive subtypes, such as the tall-cell PTC. This mutation is mutually exclusive with other common genetic alterations, supporting its independent oncogenic role, as demonstrated by transgenic mouse studies that showed BRAF mutation-initiated development of PTC and its transition to anaplastic thyroid cancer. BRAF mutation is mutually exclusive with RET/PTC rearrangement, and also displays a reciprocal age association with this common genetic alteration in thyroid cancer. The T1799A BRAF mutation occurs exclusively in PTC and PTC-derived anaplastic thyroid cancer and is a specific diagnostic marker for this cancer when identified in cytological and histological specimens. This mutation is associated with a poorer clinicopathological outcome and is a novel independent molecular prognostic marker in the risk evaluation of thyroid cancer. Moreover, preclinical and clinical evaluations of the therapeutic value of novel specific mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway inhibitors in thyroid cancer are anticipated. This newly discovered BRAF mutation may prove to have an important impact on thyroid cancer in the clinic.

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Fei Li, Guangqi Chen, Chunjun Sheng, Aaron M Gusdon, Yueye Huang, Zhongwei Lv, Huixiong Xu, Mingzhao Xing, and Shen Qu

The prognostic value of the BRAFV600E mutation, resulting in poor clinical outcomes of papillary thyroid carcinoma, has been generally confirmed. However, the association of BRAFV600E with aggressive clinical behaviors of papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) has not been firmly established in individual studies. We performed this meta-analysis to examine the relationship between BRAFV600E mutation and the clinicopathological features of PTMC. We conducted a systematic search in PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane library for relevant studies. We selected all the studies that reported clinicopathological features of PTMC patients with information available on BRAFV600E mutation status. Nineteen studies involving a total of 3437 patients met these selection criteria and were included in the analyses. The average prevalence of the BRAFV600E mutation was 47.48%, with no significant difference with respect to patient sex (male versus female) and age (younger than 45 years versus 45 years or older). Compared with the WT BRAF gene, the BRAFV600E mutation was associated with tumor multifocality (odds ratio (OR) 1.38; 95% CI, 1.04–1.82), extrathyroidal extension (OR 3.09; 95% CI, 2.24–4.26), lymph node metastases (OR 2.43; 95% CI, 1.28–4.60), and advanced stage (OR 2.39; 95% CI, 1.38–4.15) of PTMC. Thus, our findings from this large meta-analysis definitively demonstrate that BRAFV600E-mutation-positive PTMC are more likely to manifest with aggressive clinicopathological characteristics. In appropriate clinical settings, testing for the BRAFV600E mutation is likely to be useful in assisting the risk stratification and management of PTMC.