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J Endocrinol Invest. 2004 Apr;27(4):311-7.

Galectin-3: presurgical marker of thyroid follicular epithelial cell-derived carcinomas.

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Section of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


Preoperative follicular lesion characterisation represents an unsolved diagnostic problem in thyroid nodular disease. Although fine-needle aspiration biopsy is the most reliable preoperative diagnostic procedure, it shows inherent limitations in differentiating adenoma from follicular carcinoma and, sometimes, follicular variants of papillary carcinoma. Galectin-3 cytoplasmic neoexpression has been proposed as a peculiar feature of thyroid malignant cells, easily detectable in cytological and histological samples. The aim of this study was to re-evaluate the galectin-3 expression in a large sample of thyroid lesions using an immunohistocytochemical biotin-free detection system and a specific anti-human-galectin-3 monoclonal antibody in order to avoid the interference of technical factors, a cause of conflicting results recently reported by some authors. We analysed galectin-3 expression of 39 follicular carcinomas, 26 papillary carcinomas, and 105 adenomas in both cell-block samples and their histological counterparts. All cell-block and histological papillary carcinoma samples showed high levels of galectin-3 immunoreactivity. Thirty-four follicular carcinomas were positive, whereas 5 were negative in cell-blocks but positive in their histological counterparts. Twelve out of 105 adenomas expressed galectin-3 in cell-blocks and histological samples. The diagnostic accuracy of preoperative galectin-3 evaluation in adenomas vs follicular carcinomas was 90.0%. Galectin-3 expression was also investigated in 22 minimally-invasive follicular carcinomas. All of them showed galectin-3 immunoreactivity in both cytological and histological specimens with the exception of two cases, where galectin-3 positivity was observed only in the surgical material. The routine correct use of galectin-3, by increasing the diagnostic accuracy of conventional cytology, improves the management of thyroid nodules and can lead to a sensitive reduction of useless thyroid surgeries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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