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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 29;4(7):e6428. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006428.

Hypothyroidism enhances tumor invasiveness and metastasis development.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas y Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.



Whereas there is increasing evidence that loss of expression and/or function of the thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) could result in a selective advantage for tumor development, the relationship between thyroid hormone levels and human cancer is a controversial issue. It has been reported that hypothyroidism might be a possible risk factor for liver and breast cancer in humans, but a lower incidence of breast carcinoma has been also reported in hypothyroid patients


In this work we have analyzed the influence of hypothyroidism on tumor progression and metastasis development using xenografts of parental and TRbeta1-expressing human hepatocarcinoma (SK-hep1) and breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-468). In agreement with our previous observations tumor invasiveness and metastasis formation was strongly repressed when TRbeta-expressing cells were injected into euthyroid nude mice. Whereas tumor growth was retarded when cells were inoculated into hypothyroid hosts, tumors had a more mesenchymal phenotype, were more invasive and metastatic growth was enhanced. Increased aggressiveness and tumor growth retardation was also observed with parental cells that do not express TRs.


These results show that changes in the stromal cells secondary to host hypothyroidism can modulate tumor progression and metastatic growth independently of the presence of TRs on the tumor cells. On the other hand, the finding that hypothyroidism can affect differentially tumor growth and invasiveness can contribute to the explanation of the confounding reports on the influence of thyroidal status in human cancer.

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