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Endocr Pathol. 2011 Mar;22(1):35-9. doi: 10.1007/s12022-010-9145-4.

Inmunohistochemical profile of solid cell nest of thyroid gland.

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Departamento de Citología e Histología Normal y Patológica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Sevilla, Avda. Sánchez-Pizjuán s/n, 41009 Seville, Spain.


It is widely held that solid cell nests (SCN) of the thyroid are ultimobranchial body remnants. SCNs are composed of main cells and C cells. It has been suggested that main cells might be pluripotent cells contributing to the histogenesis of C cells and follicular cells, as well as to the formation of certain thyroid tumors. The present study sought to analyze the immunohistochemical profile of SCN and to investigate the potential stem cell role of SCN main cells. Tissue sections from ten cases of nodular hyperplasia (non-tumor goiter) with SCNs were retrieved from the files of the Hospital Infanta Luisa (Seville, Spain). Parathormone (PTH), calcitonin (CT), thyroglobulin (TG), thyroid transcription factor (TTF-1), galectin 3 (GAL3), cytokeratin 19 (CK 19), p63, bcl-2, OCT4, and SALL4 expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Patient clinical data were collected, and tissue sections were stained with hematoxylin-eosin for histological examination. Most cells stained negative for PTH, CT, TG, and TTF-1. Some cells staining positive for TTF-1 and CT required discussion. However, bcl-2, p63, GAL3, and CK 19 protein expression was detected in main cells. OCT4 protein expression was detected in only two cases, and SALL4 expression in none. Positive staining for bcl-2 and p63, and negative staining for PTH, CT, and TG in SCN main cells are both consistent with the widely accepted minimalist definition of stem cells, thus supporting the hypothesis that they may play a stem cell role in the thyroid gland, although further research will be required into stem cell markers. Furthermore, p63 and GAL-3 staining provides a much more sensitive means of detecting SCNs than staining for carcinoembryonic antigen, calcitonin, or other markers; this may help to distinguish SCNs from their mimics.

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