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Paolo Miccoli, Michele N Minuto, Clara Ugolini, Eleonora Molinaro, Fulvio Basolo, Piero Berti, Aldo Pinchera and Rossella Elisei

Total thyroidectomy and central neck dissection are the procedures of choice in patients affected with medullary thyroid cancer. It is known that a medullary thyroid cancer with node metastases can be rarely cured, and therefore the utility of a modified radical neck dissection in the absence of suspicious node metastases still needs further evidence. The study aims to verify whether other epidemiological and pathological parameters could affect the prognosis of medullary thyroid cancer patients. We prospectively studied 70 medullary thyroid cancer patients consecutively operated on (from 2000 to 2004) at the same institution and analysed by the same pathologists. All patients underwent total thyroidectomy and central lymphadenectomy. In 27 cases, the ipsilateral (n=19) or bilateral (n=8) modified radical neck dissection was performed in the presence of suspicious lateral neck node metastases. After surgical treatment, basal and stimulated serum calcitonins (Cts) were measured in all patients. Follow-up ranged between 1 and 4 years. Patients were considered ‘cured’ when stimulated Ct was undetectable. Age, sex, tumour size, tumour capsule, multicentricity, nodes in the central neck and mean number of positive nodes were analysed in ‘cured’ and ‘not-cured’ patients. The presence of node metastases in the central compartment was significantly correlated with the outcome of the patients, being present in 9 and 72% of cured and not-cured patients respectively (P<0.000001). Tumour size was also significantly correlated with the outcome of the disease (P<0.00006). The presence of the tumour capsule correlated with better prognosis (P=0.0005) and absence of node metastases (P=0.0080). By multivariate analysis, the presence of node metastasis remained the most significant variable affecting the outcome of the disease (P=0.000014). Our results show that the outcome of encapsulated cancer is significantly better regardless of tumour size and node metastases. Although the early diagnosis and the extensive surgical treatment may favour the good outcome of medullary thyroid cancer, they do not always guarantee the definitive cure of the disease, being the capsular infiltration an independent bad prognostic factor.

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Alessandro Antonelli, Silvia Martina Ferrari, Poupak Fallahi, Silvia Frascerra, Simona Piaggi, Stefania Gelmini, Cristiana Lupi, Michele Minuto, Piero Berti, Salvatore Benvenga, Fulvio Basolo, Claudio Orlando and Paolo Miccoli

In papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs), oncogenes activate a transcriptional program including the upregulation of CXCL10 chemokine, which stimulates proliferation and invasion. Furthermore, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) activators thiazolidinediones (TZDs) modulate CXCL10 secretion in normal thyroid follicular cells (TFC), and inhibit PTC growth. Until now, no study has evaluated the effect of cytokines on CXCL10 secretion in PTCs, nor the effect of PPARγ activation. The combined effects of interferon γ (IFNγ) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) stimulation on CXCL10 secretion in primary cells from PTCs and TFC were tested. Furthermore, the effect of PPARγ activation by TZDs, on CXCL10 secretion and proliferation in these cell types was studied. In primary cultures of TFC and PTCs CXCL10 production was absent under basal conditions; a similar dose-dependent secretion of CXCL10 was induced by IFNγ in both cell types. TNFα alone induced a slight but significant CXCL10 secretion only in PTCs. The stimulation with IFNγ+TNFα induced a synergistic CXCL10 release in both cell types; however, a secretion more than ten times higher was induced in PTCs. Treatment of TFC with TZDs dose-dependently suppressed IFNγ+TNFα-induced CXCL10 release, while TZDs stimulated CXCL10 secretion in PTCs. A significant antiproliferative effect by TZDs was observed only in PTCs. In conclusion, a dysregulation of CXCL10 secretion has been shown in PTCs. In fact, a CXCL10 secretion more than ten times higher has been induced by IFNγ+TNFα in PTCs with respect to TFC. Moreover, TZDs inhibited CXCL10 secretion in TFC and stimulated it in PTCs. The effect of TZDs on CXCL10 was unrelated to the significant antiproliferative effect in PTCs.