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Hum Pathol. 1996 Dec;27(12):1329-35.

Tumor-specific deposition of immunoglobulin G and complement in papillary thyroid carcinoma.

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Department of Surgery, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Despite its predilection for multifocal growth and regional metastasis, papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is a clinically indolent malignancy with an exceptionally favorable long-term prognosis. Together with the often striking inflammatory reaction present in PTC, its quiescent behavior has been suggested to reflect the activation of a tumor-induced immune response. To examine this possibility, we have studied the deposition of immunoglobulins and complement in PTC tissue. Samples from 70 cases of neoplastic and autoimmune thyroid diseases, including PTC (n = 41), follicular, anaplastic, and medullary carcinomas (n = 12), follicular adenoma (n = 6), Graves' disease (n = 8), and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (n = 3) were analyzed immunohistochemically. Cellular deposits of immunoglobulin G (IgG), particularly subclasses IgG1 and IgG4, and complement factors C3d, C4d, and C5 were shown in up to 80% of the PTC cases, whereas the other thyroid diseases studied showed little or no cellular deposition. Nonneoplastic tissue of PTC-containing thyroid glands (n = 22) lacked staining for IgG in 50% of the cases, and 82% were devoid of complement. The results suggest a tumor-specific immune response in PTC with activation of the classical complement cascade.

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