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Thyroid. 1999 Dec;9(12):1215-20.

Telomerase activity in thyroid malignancy.

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Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong Medical Centre, Queen Mary Hospital, China.


Telomerase activity seems to play a role in the development and pathogenesis of thyroid carcinoma. Its incidence of expression and its application as a tumor marker remain to be elucidated. Thyroid tissues obtained during thyroidectomy from 1996-1998 were rapidly frozen and stored at -80 degrees C until processed. Telomerase activity was determined using telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP). Histology of the tissue examined (67 benign and 59 malignant) was reviewed. Telomerase activity was detected in 15 of 52 papillary carcinomas (29%); 1 of 1 thyroid lymphoma (100%); 1 of 2 anaplastic carcinomas (50%); and 2 of 16 lymphocytic thyroiditis specimens (13%). Telomerase activity was not detectable in 35 normal thyroid, 9 follicular adenoma, 7 nodular hyperplasia, 2 follicular carcinoma, and 2 medullary carcinoma. Lymphocytic thyroiditis was detected in 8 of 37 (22%) apparently normal thyroid tissues adjacent to papillary thyroid carcinoma and telomerase activity was present in 2 of these 8 specimens (25%). In conclusion, telomerase does not appear to be frequently activated in papillary thyroid carcinoma. The association of lymphocytic thyroiditis with papillary thyroid carcinoma may limit its clinical usefulness as a tumor marker.

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