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Tumori. 2001 May-Jun;87(3):166-72.

Ret oncogene protein expression in papillary thyroid carcinoma and related lesions.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Ottawa Hospital, Ontario, Canada.



Activation of Ret oncogenes, particularly Ret/PTC, has been identified in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). The purpose of this study was to investigate the immunostaining pattern of Ret oncogene protein in PTC and nodular non-PTC lesions with a fine chromatin pattern.


Ninety-three PTC and 139 nodular non-PTC lesions were microscopically reviewed to identify the nuclear changes of "limited nuclear features of PTC" (focal nuclear grooves, nuclear inclusions or optically clear nuclei) and areas of infiltrating carcinoma (IC) and were submitted for immunostaining with Ret oncogene protein antiserum.


Immunoreactivity for Ret protein ranged from negative in follicular adenoma (FA) with a coarse chromatin pattern, to negative or weak reactivity in FA with a fine chromatin pattern, to strong reactivity in PTC with areas of infiltrating carcinoma (IC). In FA with fine chromatin, FA and follicular carcinoma (FC) containing an admixture of areas of coarse and fine chromatin, areas with nuclear changes with "limited nuclear features of PTC" displayed varying degrees of immunoreactivity. The intensity of immunostaining varied with the degree of nuclear change. The noninvasive component of PTC with IC usually showed more extensive and stronger reactivity than PTC without IC. PTCs with and without IC were associated with a rate of lymph node metastasis of 48% and 3%, respectively.


The expression of Ret oncogenes (Ret/PTC, other unknown variants or wild type) is focally or extensively present in all PTC with IC. The degree of immunoreactivity is likely to be proportional to the potential for lymph node metastasis of PTC. In the context of this study and due to the specificity of Ret oncogenes, it is likely that nodular non-PTC lesions with a fine chromatin pattern and focal positive reactivity for Ret oncogene represent PTC-related lesions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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