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Eur J Endocrinol. 1999 Nov;141(5):443-57.

Sodium/iodide symporter: a key transport system in thyroid cancer cell metabolism.

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1
Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Clinica, Università di Catanzaro, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy. filetti@tin.it

Abstract

The recent cloning of the gene encoding the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) has enabled better characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying iodide transport, thus opening the way to clarifying its role in thyroid diseases. Several studies, at both the mRNA and the protein expression levels, have demonstrated that TSH, the primary regulator of iodide uptake, upregulates NIS gene expression and NIS protein abundance, both in vitro and in vivo. However, other factors, including iodide, retinoic acid, transforming growth factor-beta, interleukin-1alpha and tumour necrosis factor alpha, may participate in the regulation of NIS expression. Investigation of NIS mRNA expression in different thyroid tissues has revealed increased levels of expression in Graves' disease and toxic adenomas, whereas a reduction or loss of NIS transcript was detected in differentiated thyroid carcinomas, despite the expression of other specific thyroid markers. NIS mRNA was also detected in non-thyroid tissues able to concentrate radioiodine, including salivary glands, stomach, thymus and breast. The production of specific antibodies against the NIS has facilitated study of the expression of the symporter protein. Despite of the presence of high levels of human (h)NIS mRNA, normal thyroid glands exhibit a heterogeneous expression of NIS protein, limited to the basolateral membrane of the thyrocytes. By immunohistochemistry, staining of hNIS protein was stronger in Graves' and toxic adenomas and reduced in thyroid carcinomas. Measurement of iodide uptake by thyroid cancer cells is the cornerstone of the follow-up and treatment of patients with thyroid cancer. However, radioiodide uptake is found only in about 67% of patients with persistent or recurrent disease. Several studies have demonstrated a decrease in or a loss of NIS expression in primary human thyroid carcinomas, and immunohistochemical studies have confirmed this considerably decreased expression of the NIS protein in thyroid cancer tissues, suggesting that the low expression of NIS may represent an early abnormality in the pathway of thyroid cell transformation, rather than being a consequence of cancer progression. The relationship between radioiodine uptake and NIS expression by thyroid cancer cells require further study. New strategies, based on manipulation of NIS expression, to obtain NIS gene reactivation or for use as NIS gene therapy in the treatment of radiosensitive cancer, are also being investigated.

PMID:
10576759
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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