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Mod Pathol. 2000 May;13(5):562-9.

Retinoblastoma expression in thyroid neoplasms.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-6100, USA.


Retinoblastoma (Rb) mutation in thyroid neoplasia has been identified in a few molecular studies; however, the utility of Rb immunohistochemistry in distinguishing benign and malignant thyroid lesions has not been documented in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. The present study investigated Rb immunohistochemistry in a series of 111 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded benign and malignant thyroid lesions. All of the major histologic subtypes were included to detect any heterogeneity in Rb-1 expression that might influence the diagnostic utility of this technique or further elucidate the pathogenesis of thyroid neoplasia among the categories. Altogether, 34 follicular adenomas, 9 follicular carcinomas, 7 Hürthle cell adenomas, 5 Hürthle cell carcinomas, 23 papillary carcinomas (8 of which were follicular variants), 4 insular carcinomas, 4 anaplastic carcinomas, 6 medullary carcinomas, and 19 nodular goiters were analyzed. Avidinbiotin immunohistochemistry was performed using the Dako Rb-1 clone. Pronase digestion was introduced into the epitope retrieval protocol to eliminate false-positive cytoplasmic stainig. Nuclear immunoreactivity was assessed as positive if 10% or more of thyroid epithelial nuclei stained positively, and conversely as negative. The majority of benign non-Hürthle thyroid lesions, whether hyperplastic or neoplastic, retained Rb nuclear immunopositivity in most cells (51 of 53 cases [96%]). Conversely, malignant thyroid neoplasms lacked Rb immunoreactivity in the majority (42 of 51 cases [82%]), including all papillary carcinomas (23 of 23) and almost all follicular carcinomas (8 of 9 [89%]). Virtually all Hürthle cell neoplasms were negative (11 of 12 [92%]), whether benign or malignant. In conclusion, Rb immunohistochemistry can aid in the distinction between benign and malignant thyroid lesions in conjunction with morphology. This seems to be most applicable to the often problematic differentiation between follicular adenoma and the follicular variant of papillary carcinoma (P < .0001; sensitivity and specificity, 100%) or minimally invasive follicular carcinoma (P = .0007; sensitivity, 89%; specificity, 100%).

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