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Eur J Endocrinol. 2007 May;156(5):547-54.

Should parafibromin staining replace HRTP2 gene analysis as an additional tool for histologic diagnosis of parathyroid carcinoma?

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.



HRPT2 gene mutations are associated with parathyroid carcinomas, and absence of parafibromin immunoreactivity has been suggested as a diagnostic marker of malignancy. The aim of our study was to extend parafibromin studies in a series of benign and malignant parathyroid tumors and cross-validate the results of immunohistochemistry with those of HRPT2 analysis.


We performed parafibromin and cyclin D1 immunostaining and HRPT2 gene analysis using loss of heterozygosity studies and sequencing analysis in parathyroid specimens from 11 patients with carcinoma (eleven primary tumors, one skin, and four lung metastases), 22 with sporadic adenomas, and 4 with atypical adenomas.


Ten out of eleven parathyroid cancers were negative for parafibromin staining and showed HRPT2 gene abnormalities. The remaining sample was negative for immunostaining and genetic analyses. All but one sporadic adenomas showed parafibromin immunoreactivity and no HRPT2 gene abnormalities. The sample with negative immunostaining carried an HRPT2 mutation. Two atypical adenomas were positive and two negative with parafibromin staining. No HRPT2 abnormalities were found in these samples. Cyclin D1 expression was heterogeneous and there was no relationship between expression/expression level of cyclin D1 and parafibromin expression.


We have shown that negative parafibromin staining is almost invariably associated with HRPT2 mutations and confirm that loss of parafibromin staining strongly predicts parathyroid malignancy. In clinical practice, these tests could be particularly useful in the subset of parathyroid tumors with equivocal histological examination. However, their diagnostic value in this setting remains to be proven.

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