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Semin Nucl Med. 2004 Jan;34(1):23-31.

The Na/I symporter (NIS): imaging and therapeutic applications.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


The Na(+)/I(-) symporter (NIS) is the plasma membrane glycoprotein that mediates the active uptake of I(-) in the thyroid, ie, the crucial first step in thyroid hormone biosynthesis. NIS also mediates I(-) uptake in other tissues, such as salivary glands, gastric mucosa, and lactating (but not nonlactating) mammary gland. The ability of thyroid cancer cells to actively transport I(-) via NIS provides a unique and effective delivery system to detect and target these cells for destruction with therapeutic doses of radioiodide. Breast cancer is the only malignancy other than thyroid cancer to have been shown to functionally express NIS endogenously. The considerable potential diagnostic and therapeutic use of radioiodide in breast cancer is currently being assessed. On the other hand, exogenous NIS gene transfer has successfully been carried out into a variety of other cell lines and tumors, including A375 human melanoma tumors, and SiHa cervix cancer, human glioma, and hepatoma cell lines. Most notably, significant radioiodine therapy results have been obtained in the NIS-transfected human prostatic adenocarcinoma cell line LNCaP and in NIS-transfected myeloma cells, both of which exhibited prolonged retention of radio iodide even in the absence of I(-) organification. The therapeutic potential of alternative NIS-transported radioisotopes with different decay properties and a shorter, physical half-life than 131I(-), such as beta-emitter 188Rhenium (188ReO(4)-) and alpha-emitter 211Astatine (211At(-)), has been evaluated. In conclusion, it is clear that the remarkable progress made in the last few years in the molecular characterization of NIS has created new opportunities for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic applications for NIS in nuclear medicine.

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