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Lab Invest. 1984 Mar;50(3):262-70.

Expression of intermediate filament proteins in thyroid gland and thyroid tumors.


The presence of intermediate filament proteins of cytokeratin/prekeratin type and vimentin type was evaluated in non-neoplastic thyroid glands and in different types of thyroid neoplasms. Follicular epithelium of both normal and goitrous thyroids showed a strong reaction with anticytokeratin antibodies that widely cross-react with various simple epithelia. On the other hand, in normal thyroid, there were only occasionally (in one of 12 cases) solitary cells reacting with antibodies to epidermal prekeratin. In nodular goiters, such cells were often seen (eight of 18), especially among the lining cells of cysts, and in chronic thyroiditis in all (12 of 12) cases. Only the stromal cells and intraluminal macrophages reacted with antibodies to vimentin. Neoplastic cells of papillary carcinomas showed a positive staining reaction both with antibodies to cytokeratins and to epidermal prekeratin. Follicular carcinoma cells, although positive for cytokeratins, could generally not be stained with antibodies to epidermal prekeratin. Medullary carcinoma cells also showed cytokeratin positivity and, only occasionally, positivity for epidermal prekeratin. Anaplastic carcinomas were also reactive with antibodies to cytokeratin but, for the most part, were negative for epidermal prekeratin. Interestingly, some neoplastic cells of all types of thyroid carcinomas also appeared to contain vimentin, as shown with both polyclonal and monoclonal antivimentin antibodies. In contrast to carcinomas, the intermediate filaments of thyroid sarcomas and lymphomas were only of vimentin type. Furthermore, it was found that the papillary structures in benign goiters were only reactive with cytokeratin antibodies and lacked, in contrast to papillary carcinomas, epidermal prekeratin-like immunoreactivity. Hence, the analysis of intermediate filament proteins of thyroid tumors can be utilized to differentiate between papillary and follicular carcinomas and between benign and malignant papillary lesions as well as between anaplastic thyroid carcinomas and sarcomas or lymphomas.

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