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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2002 Jun;126(6):710-3.

Immunohistochemical expression of galectin-3 in benign and malignant thyroid lesions.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



The expression of galectin-3, a human lectin, has been shown to be highly associated with malignant behavior of thyroid lesions.


We studied the immunohistochemical expression pattern of galectin-3 in a variety of follicular-derived thyroid lesions (13 benign and 62 malignant), including Hürthle cell and follicular carcinoma, papillary carcinomas and variants, and anaplastic and poorly differentiated carcinomas.


Immunoreactivity was strongest in papillary thyroid carcinomas, whereas staining was less intense in Hürthle cell and anaplastic carcinomas, and even weaker in the follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma. Staining was absent or weak in the 3 follicular thyroid carcinomas and was negative in both insular carcinomas. In several tumors, staining was stronger at the advancing invasive edge of the lesion than in the central portion of the tumor. Galectin-3 was also expressed focally and weakly in reactive follicular epithelium and entrapped follicles in chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. A variety of thyroid lesions showed prominent endogenous, biotin-like activity, which could cause flaws in interpretation if a biotin-detection system were used.


We conclude that galectin-3 immunostaining, when used in biotin-free detection systems, may be useful as an adjunct to distinguish benign from malignant thyroid lesions.

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