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Am J Pathol. 2000 Mar;156(3):831-7.

Papillary carcinoma of the thyroid: hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) stimulates tumor cells to release chemokines active in recruiting dendritic cells.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Patologia, Cattedra di Chirurgia Generale (Prof. Francesco P. Campana), Università "La Sapienza", Roma, Italy.


Tissue distribution of dendritic cells was investigated in eight cases of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid using immunohistochemistry. Most dendritic cells had an immature phenotype (CD1a++, CD11c+, CD40+, CD86-, HLA-DR-) and were located at the invasion edge of the tumor. This pattern of distribution was profoundly different from that of CD68+ macrophages, which were evenly distributed throughout the tumor. The ability of tumor cells to release chemotactic factors active on dendritic cells was investigated in primary cultures of the same cases of papillary carcinoma, and was compared to that of the corresponding normal thyroid cells obtained from the tumor-free contralateral lobe. Chemotactic activity of culture supernatants was tested against dendritic cells in a chemotaxis chamber. It was found that papillary carcinoma cells were active in releasing chemotactic activity, that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF; 100 ng/ml) or interleukin (IL)-1beta (10(3) U/ml) induced a fourfold increase in the amount of chemotactic activity released, and that normal thyroid cells obtained from the same patients were as effective as tumor cells. Characterization of chemokines at RNA level revealed that unstimulated cells contain large amounts of IL-8 and monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 RNAs, and that stimulation with HGF or IL-1beta induced RNAs for regulated upon activation normal T expressed and secreted (RANTES), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-3alpha, interferon-gamma-inducible protein 10 (IP-10), and, to a lesser extent, MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta. The possibility that HGF/Met interaction has a biological role in vivo was investigated in serial sections of six tumors immunostained for CD1a+, Met protein, and HGF. It was found that all six tumors were intensely and diffusely positive for Met protein, that HGF staining was present in tumor cells of the advancing edge, and that HGF+/Met+ tumor cell nests were infiltrated by CD1a+ dendritic cells. The foregoing observations are consistent with the possibility that HGF stimulation of Met+ tumor cells is one of the molecular mechanisms involved in the recruitment of dendritic cells.

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